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How to Play Garbage Card Game With Your Kids?

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In our house, we love to play fun games with the kids, especially educational games. Each night before bed we play a game with our little kids. One of their favorite games to play is the garbage card game. This game is perfect for toddlers learning to count and number order all the way up to 99. 

How to Play Garbage Card Game With Your Kids

How many players can play Garbage Card Game?

Typically two players play this game at a time. If you would like to play with more players, you will need to add extra decks of cards

  • 1 deck for 2 players
  • 2 decks for 3 to 4 players
  • 3 desk for 5 or more players

What do I need to play this game?

The only thing you need to play in this game is a deck of playing cards. 

What math skills does this game teach?

This game practices counting and comparing numbers while having fun. 

Variations of the Game

A variation of the game that some people choose to play is Kings and Jokers are wild. If you get one of these then you can use it in any place on the 10 square. You can move these wilds around in whichever spot you choose. If you are playing with younger children, there is a possibility that this twist in the game will confuse them. 

How to play garbage?

Garbage is played with two players. To begin this game you will want to shuffle and deal each player 10 cards without looking at them. 

Once dealt you will want to make two rows facing down of five cards each. The remaining cards you will want to put in the center. This will become the draw pile. 

The player who goes first will draw the top card out of the pile. They then will place this card in the correct spot within their rows of cards. They then take this card and replace it in the correct spot on the board. They continue this process until they get a card they already have or they draw a Jack, King, or Queen. (The Aces in this game is the 1). Once this happens their turn is over and it the other players turn. The other person begins their turn by choosing the card on the top of the draw pile or the top card of the discard pile. They then play until they unveil a card they already have or a facecard. The game is over when the first person places all their cards in order from 1 (A) to 10! 

This game can be played pretty quickly so you can easily play several rounds. 

An Example:

Say you draw a 5. You will start at the top right card and count 5 spaces. You will then replace the facedown card with the five and look at the facedown card. Say this card is an Ace, or as my kids call it an “A”. They will then replace it in the 1 spot. They lay it in the 1 spot and then pick that card up and look at it. If this was a 4 they would count four spots and lay it down and pick up that card. Play continues until they pick a card they already have in its place or a face card. So if it was a Jack their turn is over and it is the other person’s turn. 

Does this game teach math skills?

This is the perfect game for teaching math skills. Not only does it teach number recognition but it teaches many other skills as well. It is the perfect game for younger children, especially preschoolers and kindergarteners. 

You may wonder why you don’t lay all 10 cards in a row. Well, these card game represents a 10 frame with 5 on top and 5 on the bottom. Your Kindergartener will definitely recognize this from school because they use them in the classroom almost every single day. 

Setting up this 10 frame helps them immensely with counting and other skills. Younger children playing will count through starting at the top right 1,2,3,4, as they point the corresponding card until they get to the correct one. Once there they will place the card and then begin counting again and pointing. 

Older children with more confident math skills with the ten frame might replace the “5” card without counting because they are more confident and counting in their head. 

You might even see your younger child place a 7 between the 6 and the 8 once they are face up because they remember that 7 goes in the middle. 

These are all great math skills that are much easier to practice while playing a fun game rather than sitting at the table with a sheet of homework counting 10 frames.  

How can I spark more thinking while playing?

Getting your child thinking while playing will help them develop critical thinking skills in math. When a card is pulled from the pile you can ask, “What number is it?” With younger kids, this will help instill number recognition. 

Once they answer what number it is you can follow up with “Do you think it goes in the top or bottom row?” allow them to think for a minute and come up with an answer. If over time they are still confused you can prompt them by reminding them that 1-5 goes in the top and 6-10 goes in the bottom row.  

Another fun question is to ask “What number goes in between (and then tell them two numbers that are both faceup)?” This helps them to recognize number order. 

My daughter always is keeping track of who is winning, so ask the question and let them answer, follow it up with why they are winning. This allows your kids to count the face-up cards of each player to determine who is currently winning the game. 

If your kids are more advance in math skills you can also ask questions like

  • What number do you need?
  • What number do I need?
  • Can you win the game on your next turn?

Did your child like playing this game with you? Share in the comments!

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