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Biggest Number Wins

Alignments to Content Standards: K.CC.C



Students play in pairs. Each student has a deck of 44 cards, 4 identical cards for each of the numerals 0–10. Each card shows the numeral and a picture representing the corresponding quantity. The decks should be of different colors so they can be easily separated at the end.



  • The students sit side-by-side. The cards are shuffled and the students place their deck face down in front of them. Each student flips over one card.
  • Together, the students decide which of the two numbers shown has the greater value. The student with the card with the greatest number keeps both cards.
  • In the event that both cards show the same number, each student places another card directly on top of the first card and the new cards are compared. This continues until one of the students has places a card with a greater value; that student takes all the cards.
The game continues in the same way until all cards are used. The student with the most cards wins.

IM Commentary

  • The pictures on the cards that represent the quantities should consist of objects arranged in regular spatial patterns such as dice patterns, ten frames, or finger patterns. It is important for students to have had previous experience recognizing the patterns. This can be done by quickly flashing the cards, one at a time, to the students as a whole group and saying the number or having pairs of students flash the cards to each other. The cards should be index card size (3"x5") or larger so they can be seen by whole group.

  • It is important to associate the written numeral with the quantity. This will help students later when combining numbers.

  • Practicing using domino dot, 10-frame, or finger pattern cards is an excellent way to scaffold the particularly important concept of grouping numbers and counting on that will be needed in first grade. This game should not be played with cards only showing numerals until students have had experiences with counting items and comparing quantities.

  • Students should be able to recognize most of the numbers from 0–10 before playing this game.

  • A challenging variant of this game would be "Number Golf" where the smallest number wins each round.


After students are familiar with the domino dot, 10-frame, and finger pattern cards, a mixture of the cards could be used in the game. For example, one student has a deck of finger pattern cards and the other student has a deck of 10-frame cards.