Kids Card Games

Card Games For Kids

Card games using traditional playing cards have been around for thousands of years. The earliest evidence of their use dates back to China in the 9th century, when it is believed the cards doubled up as a form of currency. It wasn’t until the 14th century that they began to spread throughout Europe; today the suits we are most familiar with (hearts, diamonds, clubs and spades) are of French descent.

Card games remain a popular pastime all around the world for both children and adults. Whether you’re a parent in search of ways to entertain during the school holidays, or you’re a teacher or youth worker looking for activities that stimulate young minds, here’s why card games for kids are a great option, as well as our suggestions for the best free kids’ card games to play.

How Card Games Benefit Kids

In a world where digital entertainment is increasingly becoming the norm, many are concerned with the amount of time children spend in front of screens. Not only does prolonged screen time result in less physical activity, but the passive nature of much screen-based entertainment means children are not engaging their brains in a way that stimulates growth and imagination.

With this in mind, playing card games for kids are a welcome antidote to the constant TV show streaming and social media, and they have several unique benefits for children of all ages, including:

  • Improves motor skills such as dexterity and coordination
  • Enhances memory, concentration and problem-solving capabilities
  • Improves social skills and creates valuable family bonding time
  • Encourages learning in a fun and engaging way
  • Helps kids learn to listen and follow instructions
  • Introduces how to deal with competition and sportsmanship
  • Improves visual and color recognition
  • Good way to practice math and numeracy skills

As you can see, there are tons of benefits to be had from card games kids will love, and they’ll be having so much fun they won’t even realize they’re nourishing their minds at the same time.

10 Great Kids Card Games

Here are ten easy and fun card games for kids that you can play today – all you need is a pack of cards!

1. SNAP

Age: 3+ 

Players: 2-6 

Snap is a delightfully simple game that kids everywhere love and it only requires a pack of cards. You can also get themed sets of cards, which helps engage children with topics and pictures they like, and educational versions are available too. It’s one of the most fun free matching card games for kids available to play, and it only takes a minute to learn the rules.

Aim of the Game: To end up with the most cards.

How to Play:

  • Deal the entire pack between all players, so every player has their own little stack of cards, placed face down on the table.
  • Player one flips over their top card, and starts a pile in the center of the table.
  • Player two, on player one’s left, then flips over their top card and puts it on the pile.
  • When one card matches the one beneath, players need to beat each other to saying ‘SNAP!’ The one who gets there first wins the whole pile.
  • If someone uses up all their cards, they’re out of the game.

2. WAR

Age: 5+

Players: 2

Another fantastic game that only requires a pack of cards, War is fun for young children and parents alike. Suits are not relevant in this game, as the focus is on the values of the cards only, with the normal values applying here (i.e. Ace, King, Queen, Jack down to 2).

Aim of the Game: To win the whole deck of cards.

How to Play:

  • Deal out the cards between all the players until the whole deck has been dealt.
  • Players are not allowed to look at their cards; they must be left face down in a pile on the table.
  • Each player takes their pile in one hand, and with the other takes one card at a time and lays it face up on the table before them. 
  • The player with the highest value card wins the round, takes both the up-facing cards and places them at the bottom of their pile. 
  • This continues until both players draw a card of the same value – at this point war commences!
  • To decide who wins the war, more cards must be laid down in succession – one face-down on top of the initial war card, followed by one face-up card, until someone wins.

3. MEMORY

Age: 5+

Players: 2 or more

A great memory card game for kids that encourages concentration, this is one that will get your little ones thinking while having fun at the same time.

Aim of the Game: To win the most pairs of matching cards.

How to Play

  • Spread the whole deck all over the table, with every card face down, making sure that none of them overlap.
  • Each player takes their turn at flipping two cards, trying to make a match. If unsuccessful, the cards are flipped back over and the next player takes their turn.
  • Continue playing until every card has been matched in pairs.

4. CRAZY EIGHTS

Age: 5+

Players: 2-6

This is another fun and easy card game for kids that relies on concentration, and is great for both small and larger groups.

Aim of the Game: To get rid of all your cards.

How to Play

  • Players are dealt seven cards each. The rest of the cards are placed face-down in the middle.
  • At the start, the top card from the middle pile is drawn and laid face-up beside it.
  • Player one must lay down a card on top of the face-up card that matches it in either suit or value (i.e. both Jacks or both sevens). If a player can’t match the face-up card, they draw cards from the face-down pile until they can.
  • Once the pile is finished, any player who can’t put down must skip their turn.
  • Eights are the wild card in this game, which means that the player who lays down an eight gets to choose the suit of the following card. The next player has to lay down either a card in the designated suit or an eight.

5. OLD MAID

Age: 4+

Players: 2+

This fun and simple game is one of the best card games for kids to play that adults love too, and it improves hand-to-eye skills. All you need is a full deck of cards.

Aim of the Game: To get rid of your cards as quickly as you can and not end up with the Old Maid card.

How to Play

  • Before play commences, you need to add either a joker or a card of your choice (traditionally it is the Queen of Clubs) to be the Old Maid card. Add this to the pack and shuffle.
  • Deal out all the cards. Players look at their cards, and have a moment to sort them into as many pairs as possible. Once in pairs, these cards can be placed face-up before each player.
  • The dealer goes first, and creates a fan with their cards from which the player to their left must choose one card, which they keep hidden from everyone else. 
  • The game continues, with everyone making pairs in their hands before laying them on the table. The person left with the Old Maid loses.

6. GO FISH

Age: 4+

Players: 2-6

Go Fish card games for kids are a classic and one of the most enduring pastimes for children the world over – it’s good for learning how to recognize patterns too! Here is the most popular version of the game. 

Aim of the Game: To have the most sets of four matching cards (or pairs for younger players) when all the cards have been used up.

How to Play

  • Each player is dealt five cards (if you’re playing with two, each gets seven instead). The rest of the cards are placed face down in a pile in the middle of the table.
  • The player chosen to go first asks a player of their choice for a specific card rank (e.g. Brian, do you have any fours?). If Brian has any fours, he must hand them over. If Brian has more than one of this rank, player one gets another turn.
  • If not, he says ‘Go Fish’ and player one must take the top card from the middle pile. If they draw the card in their chosen rank, they show it to the other player(s) and get another turn.

7. SPOONS

Age: 6+

Players: 3+

This dynamic and supremely fun game has been played by children for generations – you need two packs of cards and a pile of spoons.

Aim of the Game: Collect four matching cards, and be sure to grab a spoon at the end!

How to Play

  • Position the spoons – one for each player minus one – along a table so they are evenly spread out.
  • From the two combined decks, each player is dealt four cards, and the rest are placed in a pile face down in the middle of the table.
  • Player one takes a card from the top of the deck and decides whether it will be of use to them for making a set of four. If they decide not to use it, they pass it on to the player on their left, who makes the same decision, and this continues round all the players.
  • If no one wants the card, it is placed face down in the discard pile. This pile is later used once all the cards in the main pile have been used up.
  • As soon as someone gets four of the same card, they have to grab a spoon and everyone has to follow suit. The person left without a spoon has to leave the game, and one spoon is taken out.

8. SLAPJACK

Age: 6+

Players: 2-8

This fun and energetic game is closely related to Snap is great for improving coordination and reaction times in kids.

Aim of the Game: To win the entire deck of cards.

How to Play

  • The whole pack is dealt out between all players.
  • Players take it in turn to flip over a card, laying each one face-up on the table, one after the other.
  • If a Jack is laid down, the players must race to be the first to slap it. The slap champion then wins the cards, shuffles them and returns them to their own hand. 

9. SNIP SNAP SNOREM

Age: 4+

Players: 3 or more 

A fun and noisy game that’s ideal for larger groups of kids, Snip Snap Snorem is as playful as the name suggests.

Aim of the Game: To get rid of all your cards.

How to Play

  • The whole pack is dealt out so that everyone has roughly the same number of cards. Each player arranges their card from low to high value (two is low, Ace is high).
  • Player one (the person on the dealer’s left) places one card face up on the table. The next player must see if they have a card in the same rank; if they do (i.e. they have a nine), they place it down on top and say ‘Snip’. If they don’t, the turn passes on.
  • The next player must do the same. If they have a card in the same rank, they place it down and say ‘Snap’.
  • The third and last to lay down a matching card says ‘Snorem’, and wins the round. The pile is discarded and they are able to start the next round with a card of their choice.

10. BEGGAR MY NEIGHBOR

Age: 6+

Players: 2-6

Another one of those classic card games to play with kids, Beggar My Neighbor is easy to learn and can be played with as few as two players.

Aim of the Game: To win all the cards.

How to Play

  • A full deck is dealt out to all players. They keep their cards face down in a pile in front of them.
  • Player one takes their first card and lays it down face up on the table. If it has a rank of 10 or lower, it’s the next person’s turn.
  • If a Jack, Queen, King or Ace is turned over, things are different: for a Jack, the next player needs to lay down one card, for a Queen it’s two, for a King it’s three and for an Ace it’s four.
  • If nothing higher than a 10 is laid down, the first person to lay down a ‘court card’ wins and takes the whole pile.

These are just a few of the best card games for kids that can be played at home, on vacation or even on the move while at a picnic. Engage your kids’ minds and spend some quality time – all for the minimal cost of a pack of cards.