I can teach anything with a homemade UNO game. Or at least, I can use it anytime there’s something I need the children to practice that can be divided into categories. The basic game goes like this: deal out seven cards each. Flip one card over from the leftover card pile. You can play any card from the same category. Star cards allow you to change category that is meant to be played. If you can’t play a card you have to pick up another. If you get down to your last card you have to say “uno” before the next person plays, or else you have to draw another four cards. Players have to read their card as they put it down.

Right now I’m using the game for math. I have just three “suits” this time. One suit is the numbers 1 – 10 written in normal digits. One suit is the same numbers written in tally marks, and the third is dots as drawn on Rightstart Math materials (where the first five dots are one color and any dots after that are a different color so a child can see without counting how many there are). Because 30 cards isn’t really enough I do doubles of all the cards over five. I play the game with my four year old, and I have him name off the card he plays. My goal with it right now is to get him used to seeing the numbers between 6 – 10 as being 5 + something.

With my seven year old the game can be used with multiplication. Choose four numbers and write out cards with the multiples of each of those four numbers. You can play down a card that is a multiple of the same number the previous card is a multiple of. If a card is a multiple of more than one of the choose numbers then it can be used to change the “suit.”

I’ve used it for reading. I made little cards with four different vowel sounds on them. I think the first time I probably used two short vowel sounds and the long vowel sounds for the same two letters. I cut up a bunch of cardpaper and wrote out four groups of words. (Maybe long e and short e sounds, and long a and short a sounds.) I tried for a few words that overlap, having vowels from two different categories which could be played on either pile. Sometime we had the additional rule that if you have a card that starts with the same letter as the card played, you could play that one as well.

We’ll probably try playing element UNO soon with alkaline metals separated from transition metals and so on. Or perhaps we’ll play the game with body parts, with the categories being the names of organs, organelle, and molecules. There are so many possibilities.

• ### Carolyn Wilhelm

Fabulous open-ended explanation so we can apply this type if game to our teaching situations. Thank you so much, Carolyn
PS recognizing number patterns without counting is subatizing, I think.

• ### Michelle

Wow! This is great! You are so creative. Your kids and readers of your blog are lucky. I don’t homeschool, but I can imagine a number of ways to use your uno card game idea to do some extra practice with category learning at home. Thanks for this post!

• ### Jackie Higgins

This is fantastic! My four year old is obsessed with UNO since he got a free UNO game in his kids meal at Burger King. I love this idea as I’ve been trying to get him to identify how many dots there are without counting.

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