Alex Deals Out Equations

Miscellaneous Playing Cards

Image by incurable_hippie via Flickr

Looking around the room, Alex saw kids and parents moving from one table to another. Everyone seemed to be enjoying the Homeschool Math Carnival. She had six junior-high and high school students at her table, waiting while she shuffled her deck of cards.

“Okay,” she said. “These are Math Cards. I took out the face cards, so we just have numbers.”

How to Play

She dealt five cards to each player.

“The game is called Equations, and that’s what we’re going to try to make. Now you each have five numbers that you can add, subtract, multiply, or divide. I’ll even let you put two cards together to make a two-digit number, if you want, but you can only use each card once.”

She turned up two cards on the table, a 4 and a 7.

“For instance,” she said, “if I had these two cards in my hand, I could make 47, 74, 7+4, 7×4, 4/7, 7-4 . . . You get the idea.”

“Yeah,” said one of the boys. “But what are we trying to do?”

Alex dropped five 6-sided dice on the table. “The total on the dice is our goal. Each of us will try to use all our cards to make an equation that equals that number, and the first player who makes a true equation wins that hand. We’ll do this one for practice.”

How to Win

After everyone made an equation, Alex passed the deck of cards to her left.

“You will each get a chance to deal one hand and toss the dice to set a new target number,” she said. “After everyone has dealt, then whoever has won the most hands is the champion. So, let’s make some Equations!”

To Be Continued…

Read all the posts from the September/October 1999 issue of my Mathematical Adventures of Alexandria Jones newsletter.


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One comment on “Alex Deals Out Equations

  1. I should point out that there is an element of luck to this game, as well as skill. Some hands, especially those with low cards, will not be able to make as many numbers as other hands. Still, if you have tried the year game, you will know that there are usually many more options than most people expect at first glance.

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