Engage Your 1st Graders with the ‘Go 10’ Math Game: A Go Fish Variant Fostering Addition Skills

Imagine engaging your students in a card game that feels more like playtime than math class. Sounds too good to be true? Think again! The “Go 10” game, or “Go Fish for a Ten”, is a fun, innovative way to help first-grade students practice their addition skills and build robust number sense. This card game is specifically tailored for small group or classroom play, promoting active learning, teamwork, and a competitive spirit.

In essence, “Go 10” uses the mechanics of the well-known “Go Fish” card game but with a mathematical twist – each player is tasked with making pairs of cards that add up to 10. This innovative and fun pedagogical approach can revolutionize the way we introduce the concept of addition to young learners. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to implement this wonderful tool in your classroom.


You’ll need a deck of cards, minus the face cards, which means your deck will contain 40 cards, ranging from Ace (1) to 10. Alternatively, you can print out the cards provided in this post. This game is ideal for 3-4 players at a time, making it perfect for small group instruction.

Gameplay Instructions:

  1. Deal out all the cards.
  2. The game is played like Go Fish, but with a twist: instead of matching numbers, each player aims to make 10 using two cards.
  3. Each pair of cards that adds up to 10 is placed face up in front of the player who forms the pair. This visible tally of successful pairs serves as a great motivator for the players, fostering a sense of accomplishment and friendly competition.
  4. The game continues until no more pairs that total 10 can be made.
  5. The winner is the player with the most pairs at the end of the game.

This engaging, hands-on math activity is not just fun but also aligns with the Common Core State Standard 1.OA.C.6 – ‘Add and subtract within 20, demonstrating fluency for addition and subtraction within 10.’

Accommodations & Modifications:

In keeping with best instructional practices, “Go 10” can be easily modified to cater to diverse learner needs:

  1. For students who are struggling: Reduce the number of cards dealt, or provide them with a number line or ten frame to visually support their addition.
  2. For English Language Learners (ELLs): Use picture cards with numerical representations to aid understanding and provide language support.
  3. For students with learning disabilities: Consider a modified deck with fewer numbers, enabling them to focus on mastering combinations that add to 10 using fewer variables.
  4. For students ready for an extra challenge: Introduce face cards (Jack, Queen, King) assigned with values 11, 12, and 13, respectively, and adjust the target total accordingly. This could also serve as an excellent bridge to teaching the concept of teen numbers.

Example Gameplay Scenario:

Imagine a game with four players – Alice, Bob, Charlie, and Daisy.

Alice, having been dealt a 4 and 6, immediately puts down her pair of cards that add up to 10. Bob, seeing his 2 and 8, follows suit. Charlie and Daisy, unfortunately, don’t have matching pairs, so they ‘fish’ by asking the player to their left for a card. The game continues in this way, with players fishing for pairs and placing down pairs that total 10. The excitement in the room builds as pairs are made, and the students cheer each other on, all while building vital math skills.

“Go 10” is more than just a game – it’s a tool that encourages strategic thinking, enhances number sense, and improves mental math abilities. It’s the perfect blend of fun and learning, taking the dread out of math and replacing it with anticipation and excitement.

Go 10 (Go Fish for a Ten) 1st Grade Math Game

The power of “Go 10” lies in its simplicity and the ability to transform a math lesson into an engaging and interactive experience. By using this game in your first-grade classroom, you’re promoting strategic thinking, fostering teamwork, and enhancing numerical fluency.

So, the next time you plan a math class, consider bringing a deck of cards and introduce your students to “Go 10”. It’s an excellent way to reinforce basic addition facts while adding an element of fun to your math lessons. You might just find that students will ask to play again and again – a true testament to learning through play!

Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Alignment:

This math activity aligns with the following CCSS:

1.OA.C.6 – Add and subtract within 20, demonstrating fluency for addition and subtraction within 10. In this activity, students practice forming combinations of numbers that add to 10, reinforcing their understanding and fluency of addition within 10.

Remember, teaching mathematics doesn’t have to be a daunting task filled with worksheets and rote memorization. With games like “Go 10”, you can bring excitement, engagement, and meaningful understanding into your classroom. Start playing today, and watch your students’ confidence and competence in mathematics soar!

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