Skeleton Rummy



by Pamela James-Sommer

Pamela is currently a full time student in the

Department Educational Technology,

San Diego State University.

Instructional Objective Skeleton Rummy is a card game designed to serve as a learning and review tool for novice anatomy students. The game is intended to provide an elementary overview of the human skeletal anatomy.


Learners/Context The learners are students from grades 6 through adult. They can be enrolled in any basic human anatomy course or instruction involving the human skeletal anatomy.


Rationale Novice anatomy students can feel overwhelmed because of the potential complexity of the human skeletal system. This game is geared toward learners who need or desire a simplified approach to learning the basics of the human skeletal system. The game provides a fun and easy way to memorize the basic skeletal structure of the human body in either a group or individualized setting (concentration format). It also can provide a basic foundation upon which to build future learning of the entire human musculo-skeletal system.


Rules The object of the game is to eliminate all of the cards in a players hand. This can be done by forming pairs (melding). The game is over when any player has laid down all of the cards in his/her hand. The player who eliminates all of the cards first, wins the game.

The game is played in as follows:

1. Players choose a dealer to shuffle the deck of cards and deal five cards to each player. The remaining cards are placed, face down, on the center of the table to form a draw pile. The dealer turns over one card from this pile and places it (face up) to form the discard pile.

2. After the players have viewed their cards, the player to the left of the dealer begins the play by drawing one card either from the draw pile or the discard pile. The player lays down (melds) any pairs he/she may have, discards one card, face up in the discard pile.

3. The play moves to next player and continues until a player is able to eliminate all of the cards in his/her hand.

Optional Uses The game cards can also be used by individually or as a group in the form of a concentration game where the cards are placed face down and learners take turns picking two cards. If they have selected a match they get to keep them in a pile and the player with the most matches wins.


Card & Deck Design The deck consists of 52 cards. The cards are divided into two groups. Group A displays a drawing of the "skeletal anatomy" and Group B displays a basic (no details) drawing of an androgynous human body. On the cards in Group A, individual bones are shaded and named on each card. On the cards in Group B, corresponding body areas are shaded and named on each card.

Pairs of cards are made by matching the shaded skeletal segment or bone with the correspondingly shaded body part (e.g. Card from Group A: with ulna shaded would match with card from Group B: lateral forearm).


Design Process Originally, I had intended to design a game involving the entire musculo-skeletal system. As I began designing, I realized that if I wanted to include all the origins and insertions of the muscles, etc. the game would be too complex and the card too busy (ex. there are many seperate bones in the foot, hand, pelvic girdle). I felt simpler was better so I focused on the novice learner and basics. I prototyped a deck and played with 3 other players who fit the novice category. The cards contained to much detail. It was at this point I felt that the game would work best for novice learners. I also stayed with the basic 52 card deck and simple rummy rules so players could focus on learning the names and locations of the bones.

In addition I provided players with a key in the form of a diagram of the human skeletal system complete with names (on a card matching the deck) to assist beginning players.