By now, you probably know how much I like using games for learning! Especially now, when kids are home with parents or caregivers, time spent playing a simple game of UNO together can be lots of fun, but why not take that same deck of UNO cards and use it to help those same kiddos work on sorting skills, math facts, and memory? Even those kids, for whom a game of UNO is too long, requires too much sitting still, or too much patience, can enjoy these activities.
Here are three different ways to use those UNO cards:
Color Sort or Number Sort
Have kiddos sort by colors or numbers. Give them a limited stack of cards or the whole deck and have them order them numerically or by color. (Make sure they can name the colors, as well.) Some kids will prefer a neat and tidy deck of cards to use for sorting, turning each card, one at a time. Other kids might like to spread them all out on the floor and search for the cards, placing them in order in their unique way. Either way is fine!
Practicing Math Facts
Use Post-It notes (or 3×5 note cards or torn up pieces of paper) to show the math symbols (+, -, =) and have kids practice their math facts. You can sit with them as they do this, or you can have them write each fact down on a piece of paper (or even snap a pic and text it to you). You could also give them a series of problems to work on and they can lay them out on the table or floor as they work them out. Don’t limit yourself to two digit problems either! Take advantage of the floor space and really spread out! Kids can use multiple cards to show the final answer (for example, using a 1 card, a 3 card and a 2 cards to show the answer as 132.)
When my sons were younger, I made all kinds of Memory games for them! UNO cards are one of the simplest ways to use something you already have in a fun, new way. You will have to organize pairs of matching cards beforehand, but if you’ve already had them sort the cards, you’re half-way there! HA! Take turns turning over two cards at a time. If they match, that player gets to keep that matched pair. If they do not match, the player turns the cards back over and the next player tries to remember where the matching pairs are located. While this game can be played alone, it is more fun played with someone else! Try it! It’s harder than you may remember!
I hope you find these options to be simple and effective! While it may be tempting to have your kids (no matter the age) sit at the table to do these things, I encourage you to let them sit or lay on the ground to play these games. By doing so, their bodies may be more relaxed and they may be able to focus easier because they are more comfortable. Also, the gentle joint compression we experience when we are on our knees and hands (like when we are putting together a floor-sized puzzle) can alleviate stress throughout the body and ease anxiety or hyperactivity.