15 Simple, Easy and Fun Classic Card Games for Kids

Updated on March 28, 2020
daydreams profile image

Marianne comes from Scotland and has always loved to play card games with her family and friends.

There are loads of classic card games that kids can play just as well as adults (if not better). Learn the rules to 15 great games!
There are loads of classic card games that kids can play just as well as adults (if not better). Learn the rules to 15 great games! | Source

Card games are a foolproof, fun and educational way to entertain a group of kids on a rainy day or during a long holiday. Playing cards can help children learn strategy, arithmetic, shape recognition and social skills. I learnt most of these card games from family or friends when I was a child.

Many classic card games are appropriate for young children, and the simplest can be played by kids as young as 3 years old.
Many classic card games are appropriate for young children, and the simplest can be played by kids as young as 3 years old. | Source

1. Memory (Concentration)

  • Ages: 3+
  • Players: 2–4

How to Play

  1. Deal out all the cards facedown on the table.
  2. Players take turns to flip over 2 cards. If they flip over a pair that matches, they win the pair and get to have another go. If not, the next player takes a turn.
  3. If you are playing with a standard set of cards, you can either allow matching the same number and same colour card or just the same value.
  4. At the end, the player with the most cards wins.

Variations

You can also play Memory as a one-player game. Use a timer to try and get as many pairs as possible in 3 minutes. Try and beat your own score (or someone else's).

2. Snap

  • Ages: 3+
  • Players: 2–6 (best with 3 or more)

How to Play

Play Snap with traditional playing cards, or buy a set of themed Snap cards. If you use traditional playing cards, the aim is to match cards with the same number (ignore the suits). Themed Snap is especially fun for children, and you can purchase Snap cards with a theme to suit their interests (or to teach them numbers, maths or specific words).

  1. Deal out the cards around all the players so each player has a pile of cards which they place facedown.
  2. The first player turns over the card at the top of their pile and starts a pile in the centre.
  3. The next player to their left turns over the card at the top of their pile and adds it to the centre pile, and so on.
  4. If there are two cards that match, the first player to yell 'Snap!' wins the cards in the middle.
  5. If a player runs out of cards, they lose.

Appoint a referee to rule in the event of disagreements about who called 'Snap!' first!

Variations

You can also play so that players don't just have to yell 'Snap!' but must also be the first to put their hands on the centre pile.

3. Old Maid (Donkey)

  • Ages: 3+
  • Players: 3 or more

How to Play

Use a standard pack of cards with the Queen of Clubs removed, or buy a special set of Donkey or Old Maid cards. These are all the same game, just with different themes. Another option is to play with cards designed for Snap or Memory. Just remove one card from play so there is one card without a pair.

  1. Deal out all the cards one by one to each player.
  2. Players keep their hands secret but match up any pairs in their hand and place them facedown on the table. With a standard pack of cards, pairs are cards which are the same value and the same colour.
  3. The first player offers their cards to the next player on their left by spreading them out in a fan. The player chooses a card. If it matches a card in their hand, they place the pair on the table.
  4. The next player to the left takes a turn, and so on.
  5. Once a player has no cards left in their hand, they are out of the game. Play keeps going until one player is left with the single Queen of Spades or Old Maid or Donkey card. This player is the loser.

4. Go Fish

  • Ages: 4+
  • Players: 2–4

How to Play

  1. Shuffle the cards and deal them out to the players. For 2 players, deal each player 7 cards; for 3 players, deal 6 cards; and for 4 players, deal 5 cards. Place the remaining cards randomly in the middle of the table.
  2. Each player looks at their cards secretly.
  3. The first player to take a turn chooses another player and asks them if they have any cards of a certain value. They must have a card of the number they ask about in their hand. For example, they must have one or more Kings to ask for a King.
  4. If the player who is asked has any cards of the value requested, they must hand them over. The player who asked for the cards can then take another turn and ask for another card.
  5. If the player who is asked has no cards of the requested value, they must tell the player to 'Go fish.' The player must then take a card from the centre.
  6. At any point, if a player collects a set of 4 of the same kind, they win the cards and put them aside in their winner's pile.
  7. Play continues until all sets of 4 cards have been collected. The winner is the player with the most sets of 4 cards at the end.

5. Happy Families

  • Ages: 4+
  • Players: 2–4

How to Play

Play Happy Families in the same way as Go Fish, except that you ask for a specific card like the Queen of Hearts rather than any Queen.

This game is sometimes called Authors, and you can play it with standard cards. However, for children, this game can be enjoyable with specific Happy Family-themed playing cards. Happy Family cards usually have a set of picture cards with sets of 4 families. This set of Woodland Happy Family playing cards is one of my favourites.

The portability of card games means that you can play them anywhere, even outside.
The portability of card games means that you can play them anywhere, even outside. | Source

6. Slapjack

  • Ages: 4+
  • Players: 3–6

How to Play

  1. Shuffle the pack of cards and deal out the whole pack to the players.
  2. Each player takes a turn to flip over the top card on their pile, creating a new face-up pile of their own on the table.
  3. If any player turns over a Jack, each player tries to be the first to put their hand over the pile with the Jack and yell 'Slapjack!'
  4. The player who is first to 'slap the Jack' wins the pile. They pick up all the cards in the pile, shuffle them, and add them to the bottom of their pile.
  5. If a player accidentally puts their hand over a card that is not a Jack, they must give a card to the player whose card they slapped.
  6. Play continues with each player taking a turn. If a player runs out of cards, they have one chance to get back in when the next Jack is played, or else they lose.
  7. The winner is the last player left in the game.

7. Snip Snap Snorem

  • Ages: 4+
  • Players: 2–10

How to Play

  1. The pack of cards is dealt out to the players. The first player plays a card of their choice face up in the middle of the table.
  2. The next player tries to match this card. If they can, they call out 'Snip!'
  3. If the next player after this can match the card again, they call out 'Snap!'
  4. And then if a fourth player can match the card, they call out 'Snorem!' This player starts the next round.
  5. The player who runs out of cards first wins.

8. Pig

  • Ages: 4+
  • Players: 4–13

How to Play

This game is great for a large group of children. You can use a standard set of playing cards or any other set of cards with groups of 4, like Happy Family cards.

  1. Before play, organise the cards into sets of 4 so that there is only one set of 4 cards for each player. For example, if playing in a group of 4, you would have 16 cards. Put the other cards to the side.
  2. Shuffle the organised cards and deal 4 cards to each player.
  3. Each player passes one card to the player on their left at the same time as they receive one.
  4. Players must keep passing cards. This should be done as fast as possible so everyone gets into a rhythm.
  5. As soon as a player manages to collect a set of 4 cards of one kind (for example, 4 Queens or 4 sixes), this player stops passing their cards around and puts a finger on her nose.
  6. The other players must race to notice, stop passing cards and put their fingers on their nose. The last player to put their finger on their nose is the pig.

9. Crazy Eights

  • Ages: 4+
  • Players: 2–5

How to Play

  1. Deal 5 cards to each player. Place the remaining cards in a stack in the centre, and flip over the top card to create a face-up card pile.
  2. Each player takes a turn to play either the same suit or same number on top of the face-up card—or an 8. An 8 can be played on any card, and the player playing it chooses what suit the next player has to play.
  3. The first player to get rid of all their cards wins.

10. Switch

  • Ages: 4+
  • Players: 2–5

How to Play

There are lots of variations of Crazy Eights. This includes variations where 8s are not crazy (not the wildcard). The most common of these is usually called Switch. For detailed information about the rules of Switch, please read my article called How to Play the Card Game Switch (or Two-Four-Jacks or Black Jack).

11. Beggar My Neighbour

  • Ages: 6+
  • Players: 2–6

How to Play

Use 2 packs of cards if there are 4 players or more.

  1. Deal all the cards out one by one to each player in facedown piles. Players are not allowed to look at their cards.
  2. The first player to go flips over the top card on their pile and places it face up, starting a centre pile. This continues with each player taking a turn until someone flips over a King, Queen, Jack or Ace.
  3. This player must demand that the next player plays a set number of cards, depending on the card they played. For an Ace, the next player must play four cards; for a King, three cards; for a Queen, two cards; and for a Jack, one card.
  4. The next player starts placing the specified number of cards on the centre pile.
  5. However, if any of those cards are Aces, Kings, Queens or Jacks, they must stop playing cards and demand that the next player plays the required number of cards, and so on. The last player to turn over an Ace, King, Queen or Jack must pick up the centre pile, and play resumes.
  6. The winner is the first person to run out of cards.

Whether you win or lose is based on what cards you get, and nothing you do will change the outcome. It is all down to luck, but it's still fun!

Card games are a great way to engage and entertain kids, and they can handle everything from two players to large groups.
Card games are a great way to engage and entertain kids, and they can handle everything from two players to large groups. | Source

12. Twenty-One (Blackjack)

  • Ages: 6+
  • Players: 2–10

How to Play

There are many variations of this game. This is a simple version that is suitable for older children who are familiar with addition and subtraction. The aim of the game is to get cards that add up to 21, but no more. Cards are worth the following amounts:

  • Aces are worth either 1 or 11 points.
  • Jacks, Queens and Kings are worth 10 points.
  • Other cards are worth the number stated on the card.

Here's how a round of play goes:

  1. Shuffle the cards and deal 2 to each player.
  2. Each player looks at their hand and either decides to stick (meaning they don't want any more cards) or tells the dealer they want another card. A player can keep asking for another card for as long as they want. However, if at any time the value of the cards in their hand adds up to more than 21, they immediately lose.
  3. At the end, after all players have stuck, remaining players must show their hand. The winner is the player whose cards add up to the closest to 21.

13. War

  • Ages: 6+
  • Players: 2

How to Play

War is another classic. It is a simple game for just two kids to play against each other. This article provides detailed instructions: How to Play the War Card Game.

14. Rummy

  • Ages: 6+
  • Players: 2–5

Rummy is another classic card game with many variations. Here are the rules for a simple version that is good for learners: How to Play Simple 7 Card Rummy.

15. Cheat

  • Ages: 6+
  • Players: 2–5

Cheat is a personal favourite for many children, because to win you need to be the best at cheating! I've written up the rules in this article: How to Play Cheat.

Tips for Playing Cards With Kids

How to Teach the Rules

Start with practice rounds if players are new to the game. This means you start by playing an open round where everyone can see everyone else's cards. Players who know the rules talk the new players through the rules as everyone plays.

How to Make the Game Easier

Make these games easier for younger or less confident players to learn by using fewer cards. The games at the beginning of this list are all based on matching pairs and can be played just as well if you remove a few pairs.

What Cards to Use

All card games on this list can be played with a traditional set of playing cards. For the games which involve matching pairs, you can also buy specially themed cards.

How to Decide Who Goes First

If playing with a group that argues about whose turn it is, announce how you decide who goes first at the beginning. Here are some options:

  • The youngest goes first.
  • Split the cards, and the person with the highest value card goes first.
  • Throw a die, and the person with the highest number goes first.
  • Whoever sits left of the dealer starts.

What Is Your Favourite Card Game?

Comment below and let me know your favourite card game to play with your children. Enjoy your family card games!

Questions & Answers

  • How many cards do you get in Cheat?

    You deal out all of the cards in the pack so the answer is 52 divided by the number of players.

  • Are the card games in this article suitable for 10+?

    Yes, these games are suitable for any age. Although some of these games are very simple so older children (and adults) might find them boring. For example Memory, Snap and Old Maid are enjoyed more by younger children.

    The games in this list get more complicated so I recommend trying some of the ones at the bottom of my list for older children like Cheat, Switch, Crazy Eights or Beggar My Neighbour.

    However, it does depend on the personality of the child. Some 10+-year-olds will enjoy the mental challenge of playing Memory even though its a very basic game. You can use more cards for older players to make it more challenging and a timer.

  • What happens if the cards that each player puts down does not match when flipped over in the game of Snap?

    It's unlikely to happen, but I guess the player who runs out of cards in their hand first wins, or you could turn over the cards and keep playing.

Comments

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    • profile image

      LKT 

      2 weeks ago

      I was looking this up to find which card game I used to play with my friend. After not playing Go Fish! With her for a whole year, I sort of forgot. When I found Go Fish! And read the instructions, I suddenly realized that it was the one. I have stacks of cards at home and the only other thing I could do was make card houses out of them

    • profile image

      sis bestie 

      6 weeks ago

      Wooh! This is cool guys. Am enjoying it.

    • profile image

      Jiah 

      2 months ago

      I like go fish :)

    • profile image

      con 

      2 months ago

      That you so much! This was awesome!

    • profile image

      Ty 

      3 months ago

      Wow very interesting more

    • profile image

      Serenity 

      3 months ago

      Hmm, I think Memory because it looks like it’s fun.

    • profile image

      Jasmine 

      4 months ago

      Thank you

    • techygran profile image

      Cynthia Zirkwitz 

      4 months ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

      Excellent! I shall pass this valuable info on as a link in a text to my grandaughter and in a FB group! These are games i played as a child!

    • profile image

      Trash 

      5 months ago

      Help me

    • profile image

      Julie 

      6 months ago

      Kings Around the Corner

    • profile image

      Scott 

      7 months ago

      War i guess

    • daydreams profile imageAUTHOR

      Marianne Sherret 

      9 months ago from Scotland, UK

      Hi Julie - I agree Speed is a good card game, especially for 2 people. I used to play it with my cousin, although she always called it Spit. I didn't like it as much as other games as you need to be fast, and I was always a bit slow...

      Carmela - I just looked up Kemps and it sounds good. Will have to try it out next time I have the opportunity!

    • profile image

      carmela 

      10 months ago

      my favorite is Kemps (AKA Cash, Kents) look it up, it's really fun!!!!!!

    • profile image

      Julie 

      10 months ago

      My favorite card game is speed.

      2 player game

      split the pile into 2. each person gets the same amount.

      split 15 cards into 5 piles.

      first pile has 1 card faced over. 2 cards top faced over. 3 cards top card faced over. and so on.

      both people flip one card from the remainings of there deck. you can put any number that is either 1 higher or 1 lower, for example, you can put an 2 or king ontop of an ace or a 5 or 7 on top of a 6, you can put anything on the joker.

      when you finish all the cards in your 5 mini piles you slap the smallest pile. you then take the pile you hit and the other person gets the other pile.

      when you have no more cards to flip you try hitting the empty space. first to lose all your cards win.

      the fasted wins in the game of speed.

    • profile image

      RTalloni 

      2 years ago

      Thanks...life gets so busy and grandparents brains get so full that stuff like this sometimes spills out. Pinning to my Children's Activities board.

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