Playing with cards in Mathematics (LS-GR-561)


This learning scenario combines game-based learning in mathematics and learning history based on Europeana recourses. Taking as starting point the history of card games, students play the game of examination in arithmetic representations, as they try to implement the appropriate operations to calculate the target number by 4 numbers, which are randomly selected by 40 cards (cards without figures). Furthermore, being motivated by the interdisciplinarity of teaching mathematics based on digital cultural heritage of Europeana recourses, students are guided to design problems and included them in cards in order to produce a new card game, as the correct answer is a selection of 3 multiple choices. This learning scenario could be implemented face to face or by distance learning in ages 14-17, not only in the mathematics class, but also in science classes (biology, physics, chemistry, etc.), as the component of designed problem could be modified according to the concepts of these lessons.    

Key words

Mathematics, Algebra, card games, numbers, problem solving.   

Integration into the curriculum

This learning scenario can be integrated into the curriculum of mathematics in secondary and high school, as arithmetic representations and problem-solving are basic components of the curriculum in Algebra, from the 1st class of secondary school till the 3rd class of high school. In other words, it could be implemented with students aged 13-17, who could modify the problems with the mathematical knowledge that they have learned or they are learning.

Aim of the lesson

This interdisciplinary lesson aims at

  • Motivating students to search for information and getting knowledge for cultural heritage by the Europeana portal
  • Reviewing students’ mathematical knowledge
  • Developing students’ creativity and innovation, flexibility and adaptability and problem-solving skills
  • Developing students critical thinking through playing game cards games for arithmetical representations

The challenge of this lesson is that students take an active role in designing problems with mathematical concepts by any chapter of their textbooks, out of the traditional way of learning, where teachers asked students to solve the mathematical problems included in textbooks. Moreover, the additional value is that the designed problems are based on materials of cultural heritage, so they focus on making connections with history, art, fashion etc. with mathematics.

Learning process

The teacher introduces to students the cultural heritage of card games included in Europeana portal, using the collection found in the galleries of Europeana: Playing Cards   and items such as Item_1, Item 2_, Item_3

The teacher explains to students the rules of the games: We need a photo of the 40 cards of a deck without the figures arranged in a row, giving the corresponding numbering. Each time we choose 5 cards at random, the first card is the target number, which must be formed by the appropriate operations with the correct priority, necessarily from the numbers of the other 4 cards. In an excel sheet, there is a column with numbers from 1 to 40, in any 5 cells of other columns, we insert the function RANDOMBETWEEN (1,40) in order to have 5 numbers of the cards of the deck. For example: when the first random number (e.g in B2) is 21, it corresponds to card number 1 of the deck in the photo. When the other 4 random numbers are 39, 15, 7, 25, and then they correspond to cards with 9, 5, 7, 5 of the deck in the photo. This means that students have to create an arithmetic representation to calculate 1 by numbers 9,5,7,5 using calculations.

Learning outcomes

The teacher motivates students to create a new card game based on materials of collections of the digital cultural heritage of Europeana and problem-solving. Students could select any concept by science included in their curriculum and create problems. They have to solve them and add three possible answers. In the presentation template, there are instructions and examples. Also, students have to present the solution to the designed problems.

The teacher could guide students to modify each slide of the presentation into a card (picture). All of the cards will be inserted in the web environment and students could enjoy the problem solving with the quiz game

Students’ feedback

  • Feelings and impressions for this lesson based on the poll highlight that students find the activities very interesting and helpful for learning mathematics in an enjoyable way.
  • The survey for self-assessment highlights the development skills such as creativity, critical thinking, information analysis, flexibility and adaptability, and problem-solving.
  • The survey for evaluation of the activities of the learning scenario features positive attitudes. The students like most ‘The fact that they should make problems linked with daily life’, ‘Being given the chance to do something creative’, ‘learning about other cultures, traditions, and way of living, ‘the opportunity to create something on my own, ‘they liked that through this activity we connected two fields that do not seem to have a lot in common.

Would you like to know more about this learning scenario? You can download it below:

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Public Domain Mark 1.0: the featured image used to illustrate this article has been found on
Europeana and has been provided by the Rijksmuseum.

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