The Mean, Median, and Mode Card Game

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Updated on Mar 29, 2016

Understanding mean, median and mode is a critical early math skill. Help your kid master mean, median and mode with this hands-on card game, designed to appeal to every kind of child.

What You Need:

  • Pencils
  • White paper
  • Playing cards
  • Calculator (optional)

What You Do:

Review the definitions of these key terms with your child:

Mean is the average of all of the numbers in a sample. Add up all of the numbers in a set and divide by the total number of items to calculate a mean.

Median is the middle number in a series of numbers that's ordered from least to greatest. If there's an even number of items in the data set, the median can be calculated by averaging the two middle numbers.

Mode is the number that appears the most times in the data set.

Once your kid grasps the differences between these vocabulary words, gather 4 players to tackle this card game and practice each of these math concepts. Using only the Ace through 10 cards, deal out 7 cards to each player. Have everyone arrange their cards in sequential order, with every Ace representing the number 1. Then, depending upon which game you want to play, follow the directions below:

  1. Finding the Mean Game. Instruct everyone playing to find the total value of the numbers on their cards. Each player should then divide their total by 7 (the total number of items in the set) and round to the nearest whole number to find the mean. For example, if the cards in your hand are 2, 2, 3, 6, 7, 7, 9, then the sum of those digits is 38. Divide the sum by 7 to get 5 as your answer. Your answer represents the number of points you receive in each round. Provide scratch paper and pencils to help players find the answer to every division problem, or use a calculator to speed up the process.

  2. Finding the Median Game. In this game, players get a number of points that match the median card in their hands. For example, the point value for the hand above would be 6, since 6 is the value of the median card in that set.

  3. Finding the Mode Game. Just like in the games above, the number of points in the game rounds here is reflected by the mode in each hand of cards. If there isn't a mode (a number appearing more than once), then that player scores a 0 for that round. In the situation where there are multiple modes, such as in the hand above, the player receives a number of points that matches the sum of the modes. For example, the mode for the hand above would be 9, since 7 and 2 are both modes.

In each game, the winner is the first person to score a total of 21 points. This number can be lowered for kids who have shorter attention spans.

Jane Oh has taught third and fourth grades for 8 years. She has worked with many diverse groups of students. Most recently, she has written teacher textbook guides.