Make Ten {an easy card game for kids}




Miss G loves playing all sorts of card games, so when I came across Make Ten, a simple game that focuses math skills and uses just a generic deck of cards, I knew it would be a total hit.

UPDATE: Since sharing this game and our Make Ten printable play mat, I’ve had countless requests for play mats using larger numbers…  Well, I’m so happy to say that I’ve finally gotten around to creating a couple of options and best of all – they’re customizable and can be used with any larger number you choose!  Scroll to the very bottom of this post to find them.

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The idea came from this awesome book that’s brand new to our shelf – 100 Fun & Easy Learning Games For Kids.  It’s written by Amanda and Kim, the ladies behind The Educators’ Spin On It and I can’t tell you how great it is.  It’s absolutely chock full of really fun, really doable games that promote all sorts of learning using the simplest of materials.  We’ve got loads of the pages marked with activities for the summer months, but I decided we’d start with Make 10 because it’s a true partner game and I was feeling like I needed to spend some good quality one-on-one time with my girl today.

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Though totally not needed, I decided to make a play mat to go along with our game just for fun!

{Download our printable Make Ten play mats here.}

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And since I haven’t yet splurged on a laminator since leaving Kuwait, we took our two printed copies and laminated them with the self-adhesive laminating sheets our dollar store now carries, which I think work just as well for projects like these.

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While I worked on the laminating, Miss G removed all of the face cards and the jokers from our deck of cards, leaving the aces in to use as ones.

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Then it was time to play!  To get started, we shuffled our deck {minus the face cards of course}, and dealt the entire stack out between the two of us.  Then we placed our decks face down on our mats and flipped the top four cards over onto the numbered spots.

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The goal of the game is simple – to make ten using any combination of the four facing up cards.  If you can make ten, you take those cards, show them to your partner,  place them off to the side {we chose to keep our groups of ten in separate piles so that we could count them up afterwards}, and replace them with new cards from the deck.  Then your turn is over and it’s your partner’s turn!

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If you can’t make ten, you choose one of your face up cards to put at the bottom of your deck, before replacing it with a new card from the top of the deck.

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Any combination goes when making “a ten”!  Whether it’s a single ’10’ card, a pair of cards that add up to 10, or even 3 or 4 cards that can be added up to make 10, it’s all good!  Anything goes when making groups of 10.

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What I love about this game is that it really gets you thinking.  Though sometimes you’ll get a ’10’ card {or a simple combination of ten} and it’ll be really easy, other times you have to get creative in order to come up with a combination of cards that make ten.  Throughout our game, Miss G said things like, ‘Well I know that 5 and 5 make 10, but I only have one 5…  But WAIT!  I also have a 2 and a 3 and that makes 5, so really that’s like having two 5s!!!’  She also was thinking ahead in terms of what she had on her play mat…  ‘Well, I have 7s and 8s, and those can’t be put together to make 10, but if I could make a trade and get a 2 or a 3, then I could!’

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The game ends when you run out of cards or when you can no longer make any more groups of ten.  Though we both became unable to make any more groups of ten on the same turn, Miss G wanted to declare a winner, so we decided to count up the number of ‘tens’ we had each made… Sure enough, we’d both made 8… A tie!

Afterwards, we added our play mats to our bin of card games where they’ll be kept until we play again.  And in the meantime, we’ll definitely be trying some of the other games in the book!

100 Fun & Easy Learning Games for Kids  |  Printable MAKE TEN Play Mat

Since originally sharing this game and play mat, so many people have asked for play mats using numbers larger than ten.  “Make 20” and “Make 15” have been asked for the most,  but I have gotten the odd request for other numbers too, so I decided to go with a couple of options you can customize. Basically pick the one you like best, print it off and laminate it, then fill in the number you want your kiddo(s) to create using a dry erase marker.  One option gives you seven spots for face up cards {Miss G and I tested it as a Make 15 game board and it worked great} and the other gives you 6 spots for face up cards.

Here’s a peek at both:

And here’s a peek of the second option in use as a ‘Make 15’ board….


(Those 15’s are just written on our laminated play mats using a white board marker and will easily wipe off using a cotton pad.)

Now I wouldn’t say this game is the best when it comes to competition or having a clear winner (Miss G and I got rid of our cards on the same turn and had the same number of “fifteens” two times in a row), but it’s excellent for creating sums, which is the most important part in my opinion, so I’m calling it a success.

You can download our two customizable printables here:

Customizable Make 10 Play Mat (6 face up cards)

Customizable Make 10 Play Mat (7 face up cards)

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27 thoughts on “Make Ten {an easy card game for kids}

  1. This is so cute…and I could simplify it for my littlest (make 5). Which dollar store did you get the sheets at? (I’m in Vancouver too)

  2. This game is really nice! What about number ten? Do you remove that card before playing? If not, when you find it, what do you do? Sorry but I didn’t understand, maybe because of my English. Thank you and sorry for bothering you.

  3. Thanks for the mat. It is a great visual aid. My kindergarten students are work on number combinations that make 10. I can really use this idea with them.

  4. I LOVE this activity! I was wondering if you have interchangeable mats with a variety of number words up to ten> It would be a great activity for my Kinders to practice multiple skills at once :)

      1. OK I think I’ve managed to do it thx as opened it on the iPad. Don’t suppose I could be really cheeky and ask if you can put a blank number at the top? My pupil loves using the Disney cards I bought in your wonderful country so it would be good for her to make 20 as well as 10.

  5. So you make 10 with only 2 cards right? So after you make a 10, do you replace 2 cards from the top of the deck?

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  7. My six year old and I played this and had fun, but at times we had too many large numbers. We added a rule that you could use addition and subtraction to make 10. For example, 7-5=2 plus 8 equals 10.
    We didn’t always have a clear winner so we said it was better if you used more of your cards.

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