Learning Fun With UNO Cards

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

IMG_4947

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.)

Play Memory

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!

IMG_4965

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.

Don’t own a deck of UNO cards yet?  Find them on Amazon HERE.  Target currently has UNO for $5.99, so you might want to check them out first. Click HERE for Target’s listing.

 

Great Games to Enhance Learning

The rainy days of spring are upon us and summer vacation will soon be peeking around the corner.  As a parent, I was always looking for ways to keep my boys off their screens, if only for a while.  Board and card games can be a great way to encourage family connections, improve social skills and even support areas where kiddos may struggle in the classroom.  Let me show you what I mean!

Take the game Apples to Apples, for example. This fun word association game is a favorite with upper elementary and middle schoolers! Not only is this game great for supporting social skills, it also encourages planning, reasoning, and creative thinking.  Because kids don’t have to wait to submit their answers, kids who struggle waiting their turn to play traditional games can still be included and those kids who think outside of the box may find that kind of creative thinking is rewarded in a game like Apples to Apples. 

Did you know that taking turns is a foundational skill for conversation and communication? Often, kids on the Autism Spectrum struggle with taking turns during play and researchers believe that this may also inhibit their ability to have conversations with peers and adults.  Games for younger ages that encourage turn taking (along with other skills) include Monkey Around, by Peacable Kingdom, or Zingo, by Thinkfun. Traditional Board games like Candy Land and Hi Ho Cherry-O also reinforce turn-taking, along with color recognition and counting.

Below is a chart of some of our favorite games cross-referenced with cognitive skills they encourage.

Do you have a favorite game you like to play at home or in the classroom? Please share it in the comments!

 ReasoningMemoryNumber conceptsQuick thinkingProblem SolvingMotor SkillsSequencingVisual ProcessingCause and Effect
Acorn Soup  X  XX  
Apples to ApplesX   X    
BattleshipXX  X    
BanagramsX   X XX 
Blink XXX X X 
Bop-ItX XX X   
Candy Land       XX
Chutes and LaddersX X     X
Connect 4X XXXXX  
FluxXX XX X X
Jenga    XX XX
Last LetterXX XX XX 
Mad GabXX XX    
Oh Snap    XX  X
Perfection XXXXXXXX
Rat -a-tat CatXX XX  X 
ScrabbleX   X X  
SequenceXX  X XX 
Simon XXX XXX 
SlamwichXXXX  XXX
SlapjackXXXX  XX 
Skip-Bo  X   XX 
Snug As a Bug In a RugXXX  XXXX
Spot It X     X 
SuspendX   XX XX
What’s Gnu    X XX