Did you ever think you could play tennis without a ball, net, or court? Now you can—all while helping your third grader practice math facts. Show your third grader another meaning for “love”—zero points in tennis—and another way to practice math facts. Play Math Tennis and hope for long volleys that offer lots of practice! With this fun card game, your child may not even realize she’s doing school work. But you’ll know, and you’ll see the results all year long!
What You Do:
- Give both players paper and pencil to keep track of their scores while playing. Shuffle the deck and deal the cards equally to both players. Play begins with both players having a score of “love”, or zero.
- Player 1 starts the game by turning his top card face-up. Player 2 then turns over his top card and both players mentally add the cards (face cards are worth 10, except the ace which is worth 2). Next, Player 1 lays down another card and adds it to the total. If his card puts the total above 20, he wins the hand and takes all the cards that have been played. If the total is not yet above 20, Player 2 lays down his next card and adds it to the total. Play continues in this way until one player wins the hand and takes the cards. The winner of the first hand gets 15 points.
- Continue playing each hand the same way. The “Math Tennis” score system follows this order:
- “Love” (zero), 15, 30, 40
- Once a player has 40 points, if he wins the next point, he wins the game.
- If a player wins the hand by throwing a heart, he gets double points. For example, if the player has 15 points and wins with a heart, his score jumps to 40. Similarly, if a player has 30 and wins with a heart, he wins the game.
- The player who is first to win 6 games wins the set. This could be the end of the game or you can continue playing best 2 out of 3 sets.
As soon as one player runs out of cards, shuffle all cards, re-deal and continue playing. Running out of cards doesn’t mean the game is over! One other note: the game may run faster and easier if you recruit a “scorekeeper” so the players don’t have to stop to keep track of their scores. Also, consider a small reward for the winner and a consolation prize for the runner-up!
Brigid Del Carmen has a Master's Degree in Special Education with endorsements in Learning Disabilities and Behavior Disorders/Emotional Impairments. Over the past eight years, she has taught Language Arts, Reading and Math in her middle school special education classroom.