Activity Introduction

Cowboys used to play this game to prove who was the fastest mathematician in the old west. Race your family, friends or just yourself to improve your addition skills and win the title of fastest number-slinger.

This is a good activity for kids to complete independently, but can also be fun to do together as a family.

Ideal for: Middle Primary Ages 7 – 9

Themes: 

  • playtime
  • brain teasers

Time required: < 5 minutes 

Curriculum connections: Mathematics, Numeracy

Tips for Parents and Carers

Kids with low mental arithmetic strategies may be discouraged at this activity. Tell them to persevere and take away the timer aspect if it is too daunting. The better they get at quickly understanding combining numbers, the faster their overall maths skills will improve.

Kids will find it most difficult to add over multiples of ten, i.e. 7 + 5. 

The best approach is to split the numbers to best quickly make the 10, then add the remainder.

  • 5 + 5 = 10
  • 7 – 5 = 2
  • 5 + (5+2) = 12

Lesson & Curriculum Details

Curriculum codes:

Resources Required

  • Deck of playing cards
  • Timer or device with a stopwatch

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Learning@Home from Cool Australia

Learning@Home resources are designed for parents and teachers to use with children in the home environment. They can be used as stand-alone activities or built into existing curriculum-aligned learning programs. Our Learning@Home series includes two types of resources. The first are fun and challenging real-world activities for all ages, the second are self-directed lessons for upper primary and secondary students. These lessons support independent learning in remote or school settings.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.

Worksheets

Student Worksheet

Addition Race - Activity Instructions

Cowboys used to play this game to prove who was the fastest mathematician in the old west. Race your family, friends or just yourself to improve your addition skills and win the title of fastest number-slinger.

Step 1. Take out one of each card: ace (=1), 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Step 2. Shuffle the ten cards and lay them out in a line facing downwards.

Step 3. Start the timer.

Step 4. Flip over the first two cards and add them together. If it’s the ace, count this as 1. 

Step 5. Flip over the next card and add it to your total.

Step 6. Keep going until you’ve added all the cards together. Your total should be 55. If not, you’ve gone wrong somewhere!

Step 7. Stop the timer. How quick were you? Shuffle the cards and try to beat your score.

Taking It Further

Once you’ve got the hang of adding, try starting at 55 and subtracting down to zero.

You can also create your own special cards. We recommend taking the two joker cards and turning t

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