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Triple Digit Dare: Engaging Place Value Card Game

Last week I had the extreme pleasure of co-presenting the ERG Guided Math Institute with Laney Sammons in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. We spent four wonderful days with over 100 educators from around the country and even Canada! It was a real pleasure to meet and talk with so many enthusiastic educators! During one of the breaks, I had a chance to talk with Maggie, a teacher from Virginia. She shared a place value card game that her son, now 21, created when he was in 3rd grade. The game is called Triple Digit Dare. This game plays very much like War, with students using the three cards they are dealt to create a 3-digit number.

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Basic Version

Use a standard deck of playing cards with the 10s, Jacks, Queens, and Kings removed. Aces count as 1.
Note: I recently played with Queens as zeros, and Maggie keeps the Jokers in as Wild cards that can be used for any digit.

  1. Deal each player 3 cards.
  2. Players use the cards to create the largest 3-digit number possible.
  3. Players show their cards, and the player with the greatest 3-digit number takes all the cards.
  4. Play continues with 3 more cards for each player.
  5. You could easily vary this game to use 2-digit, 4-digit, or even larger numbers.

Advanced Version

Once the students master the basic version, Maggie introduces a new version of the game, this one with an added twist of strategy.

  1. Same standard deck of cards with the same cards removed.
  2. Each player still gets 3 cards.
  3. Remaining cards are placed face down in the middle of the table.
  4. After each player looks at their cards and determines their greatest 3-digit number, the fun starts! Taking turns, each player has the option to…
    • Stick–keep their 3 cards
    • Swap–remove one card from their hand and take a new card from the pile in the middle of the table
    • Steal–trade a card from their hand for a card from any other player’s hand (without looking at what card they are picking)
  5. After all players have had a turn to adjust their cards, players show their cards and the greatest 3-digit number wins.

As if this game isn’t engaging enough, Maggie has rules! Can’t you just imagine how much her students love playing this game?

Triple Digit Dare Place Value Card Game

Decimal Version

I decided that the younger kids shouldn’t have all the fun with this card game, so I made a decimal place value version! Actually, I just made a little mat that kiddos can use to play a decimal version, because the rules would be exactly the same. One game board has ones, tenths, and hundredths and the other board has tens, ones, and tenths.

Triple Digit Dare Decimal Place Value Card Game

You can download the decimals mats by clicking here. If you’re looking for more math games to play with a deck of cards, check out this post.

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  1. This is wonderful! Thanks for sharing it. I was fortunate to be able to take part in the Guided Math Institute and thoroughly enjoyed it and learned so much!

  2. Great idea! Few materials make it easy to get started and playing in a few minutes! My suxth graders could use 2 card for fractions or 3 cards for mixed numbers.

  3. I was getting this ready to teach my students and realized that you should also take out the TENS cards for this game. Either that or make a rule as to how to treat a ten.

  4. Great game ideas. You might want to change the graphic with Maggie’s rules. The first one should be
    No peekin’ (peak doesn’t fit here).

  5. My kids loved this game. It was a great review for my 3rd graders. It’s very adaptable for the different grade levels. I’ll use it again after we complete place value to 10,000 just by having 5 cards instead of 3. I also love how your pages can be made into a PDF! I just found your site. What a great resource!

  6. I play something similar using a pack of UNO cards. Kids love it. I can’t wait to try the rule where kids can swap/trade cards.

  7. I never thought of using a deck of cards in math! I love the different adaptations of the game to review the different place values!

  8. I love this!

    Could you share the link to the decimals mats? When I click on the link above, it takes me to a place value helper chart.

    Thanks so much!

  9. Thank you! I love using dice and playing cards for math practice. I am a numeracy coach and I am always looking for new ideas, especially for 4th & 5th grade. The teachers are going to love the decimal game!

    1. Yes, I use Dropbox to store my files. You don’t, however, have to have a Dropbox account to download a file from Dropbox.

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