Go Fish

Early Years/Primary (Age 3 – 9)

Curriculum Goal

Kindergarten: Demonstrating Literacy and Mathematics Behaviour

  • Demonstrate an understanding of numbers, using concrete materials to explore and investigate counting, quantity, and number relationships

Primary: Number Sense

  • Compose, decompose and compare whole numbers up to and including 50, using a variety of tools and strategies, in various contexts


  • Two to four students sit together on the carpet or at a desk
  • Primary students should have prior experience with adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing under 50


  • One standard 52-card deck with jokers


  • The teacher or group select a target number and deals five cards to each player
    • Early years students may want to target a number that is 12 or lower
    • Primary students may want to target a number upwards of 10 to 50
  • Players identify and place any pairs that can reach the target number
    • Early years students may want to attempt addition
    • Primary students may use all arithmetic operations (addition, substruction, multiplication, division)
  • Players take turns asking others for specific cards that will help them create more pairs with their remaining cards
  • If the asked player doesn’t have the card, they say “go fish”, prompting the asker to draw from the deck
  • Players replenish their hand with five new cards once they run out
  • The game continues until the deck is exhausted
  • The player with the most pairs wins

Look Fors

  • What operation do students use to combine the cards and reach the target number?
  • What strategies students use to determine which card to ask for?

Related Lessons

Students engage in a simple probability experiment that requires dice and mental math strategies.

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