Operation Rummy



by Andrea Joyce

Andrea's current job is as a courseware quality assurance analyst for Jostens Learning Corporation.

Instructional Objective The learners will be able to organize math sentences into groups and/or sequences by arithmetic operation and/or result of the operation.


Learners/Context The learners are fourth graders or students who are ready for the variety of operations, number types, and number properties represented in the cards.

This card game would be used by students after the class has been exposed to all four basic operations using one- and two-digit numbers, fractions that equal 1, negative numbers, and properties of 0.


Rationale This content is usually presented in formal, written formats on work sheets or a board to a whole class or groups. It is sometimes initially taught with manipulatives and later practiced with flash cards. Occasionally, it is practiced as a teacher-directed mental drill.

Once the students have been exposed to the content, a card game becomes helpful and effective for several reasons. First, it counterbalances serious, formal presentations. Next, it requires students to not only perform operations but to also remember the results in order to build sequences. In addition, it allows the teacher to move into a less dominant role while encouraging peer interaction and evaluation.


Rules Number of players: 2-4

1. Determine the dealer. Any player shuffles the cards. Each student selects one card. The student drawing the lowest result is the dealer.

2. Deal. The dealer shuffles the cards face down. Starting to the left, the dealer gives each student 7 cards. The dealer places the remaining cards face down (stock pile) and turns the top one face up in a second pile (discard pile).

3. Prepare to play. Each student organizes his hand into matched sets and places them face up on the table. A set consists of groups (3 or more cards having the same result of the operation) and sequences (3 or more cards of the same operation in counting order of the results).

4. Play. Turns proceed clockwise starting with the player to the dealer's left and continue until one player has no more cards.

* First, the player draws either the top card of the stock pile or the discard pile.

* Next, the player melds (places any matched sets from the hand face up on the table). Or if there are sets on the table, he may lay off (add any cards that fit to them).

* Then, he places one card face up on the discard pile. As an option, this step may also require the correct reading of the number sentence on the card within two tries to the satisfaction of the other players or the teacher. If the card is not read correctly, the student must keep it.

5. Tally the score. The player with no cards receives any points remaining in the other players' hands. A point is the value of the result of the operation. The first player to accumulate 50 points is the winner.


Card Design


Deck Design Deck of 52 cards of standard size

1. Groups. There are four groups: Addition (+), Subtraction (-), Multiplication (x), and Division (/)

2. Sequences Each sequence consists of thirteen unique, fourth-grade level number sentences, the unwritten results of which range from 0 through 12.

3. Face up, the cards show the number sentence in small print in the upper left corner and in large print in the center; face down the cards show the name of the game and a design.

Design Process The rummy model is used in this game because its structure, rules, and scoring are age-appropriate for the target group. Also, the content fits comfortably into four major categories and can readily be arranged into sequences. Since numeric sequences inherently have weighted elements, the strategy of discarding high face values becomes another dimension of the game.

The instructional side of the activity is enhanced by having the students mentally calculate the face value of each card and tally scores. In addition, the optional recitation of the discard step of the play reinforces correct reading of number sentences, which is prerequisite to performing the calculation. This option may be best used when the operations and the game are fairly new to students or when remediation is necessary.

The rummy model also permits adaptations without having to change the rules. For example, students could build sets and sequences of multiples of two's, or three's or four's. This would cause the players to alter their stratgy.