by Sandy Rosetta

Sandy is currently a 7th grade language arts and social studies teacher at Washington Middle School in Vista. She enjoys reading, cooking and boating.


Instructional Objective The learner shall be able to learn geographical literacy of the continent of Europe by recalling the various countries, cities, waterways and landforms in a rummy type of game.

Learners/Context The learners are students currently in grades 4 through 8 or anyone needing reinforcement of European geography.

This card game would be used after the students have been introduced to the various geographic components of Europe as a review for a mastery test or to reinforce recall of these components in the learner. Several sets of the card game would be available for students to use in the classroom for practice and/or remediation purposes. It is intended to be used by one or many small groups.

Rationale The material to be learned is structurally an easy one to master as it entails classifying. There are four major categories (shown below in bold type) that the students should identify to master geographic literacy. They are given below with an example of each:

Country: Germany

City: Frankfurt

Waterway: Rhine River*

Landform: Bavarian Alps

*If a waterway runs through more than one country, that card will be repeated and can be used for any of the countries that contain that waterway.

A card game is useful for this type of instruction for several reasons. The amount of material to be learned is exact and well-defined, the terms of geographic literacy are easy to classify into a card game, and having a card game introduces a unique way of learning this material.

Rules The game is played in the following manner:

  1. Take either the 64 cards for Western Europe or the 52 cards for Eastern Europe and shuffle the cards well. When the students feel comfortable with both Western and Eastern Europe, the two sets should be combined. Play for all sets of cards is the same. Deal seven cards to each of the two to six players one at a time. (If using sets with an entire classroom, the teacher should divide his/her class as evenly as possible.) One player will be the dealer and one will be the scorekeeper. Place the next card face-up on the table. This becomes the face-up pile. To the right of this card, place the remainder of the cards face down. This becomes the draw stack.

  2. The player on the dealer's left begins play. S(he) may either pick up the card lying face up or take the top card from the stack. S(he) may choose to keep this card in his/her hand or return it to the face-up pile on the table. If one of the new cards is taken, one must be discarded in its place. Play continues around the circle.

  3. As the discard stack continues to grow, any player on his/her turn may pick up some or all of the face-up pile, and a card from the hand must be discarded. The player runs the risk of not being the first to use all his cards, but it may serve him/her well in the second phase of the game.

  4. When one player has formed a country, i.e has gathered the four cards that make up one country's set, any combination of four of one kind of category and three of another, or seven of the same category, s(he) puts down his/her cards face up. This player earns 50 points. The other players do not put down their hands.

  5. The player on the "winner's" left continues to play as many of his cards on the cards of the "winner", trying to build as many countries as possible. Each card the player plays earns that player 5 points.

    When a country is built by one person, that person also earns 10 more points for a total of 30. If, however, the team of players builds a country, every player earns 20 points in addition to the points already received for the cards played. When a player can no longer use the cards in his hand to build a country, that player must draw from the drawing pile and the next player takes a turn. Play continues until all the countries have been built or until one person earns 250 points.

  6. The player with 250 points becomes the team champion. If no player has earned 250 points by the time all the countries are built, then the player with the highest score becomes the team champion.

  7. When all teams have completed their games, or at another time, the team champions will compete for the title of EuroRummy Champion. Certificates will be awarded.

Variation Another way to use these cards is a "war type" game called, Battle for the Border.


1. Two players divide the stack in the normal way with one dealing to the other and then him/herself one at a time.


2. Each player places all their cards in a pile in front of them face down. At the same time, each picks up the top card and shows it.


3. If the cards are from the same country or ones that border one another, the player with the higher-valued card takes both cards and places them off the playing area. Card values are as follows:


Country = 10

City = 8

Waterway = 6

Landform = 5


4. If both cards have the same value, the cards are placed on the table and another pair of cards is drawn. If the cards are from the same country or ones that border each other and one card has a higher value, that player gets all four cards. If the cards do not "match", the cards are placed on the playing surface with the first two, and play continues until the cards match. At that point, the player holding the higher-valued card gets all cards on the playing area.


5. Play continues in this manner until all cards have been played or until no matches can be found in the remaining stack. The player with the most cards wins.

Card Design

Deck Design One type of card is used in the deck. The information on the card makes them unique. The deck consists of 116 cards divided into two sections initially. 64 of the cards deal with information about the countries of the Western part of Europe. 52 of the cards deal withinformation about the Eastern part of Europe.

All 116 cards are divided into one of four categories as follows:

1. I am a country.

2. I am a city.

3. I am a waterway.

4. I am a landform.

Every card also has two other clues that are designed to help the students determine which country of Europe the card represents.

Design Process The first design consideration included all seven continents. While the four categories of country, city, waterway and landform lended itself to a rummy-type game, the logistics was impossible. One problem with this was that the game needed over 700 cards. Also, no two continents have the same number of countries so determining the exact number was difficult. Then, the outline of the correct continent to help students ascertain correctness, was on each card. This meant that the students didn't have to think or discover, but merely match things together. The solution was to narrow the content of the game. Instead of one rummy game, each continent, except Antarctica, has its own game. Each one will be appropriately named. This limits the number of cards and focuses the learning content. My students who field tested this game felt more comfortable after the changes were made.

Another hurdle to overcome is the number of cards that the game still requires. For EuroRummy and AfricanRummy, it seems appropriate to keep the cards in two decks. For EuroRummy, there are 64 cards that deal with Western Europe and 52 cards that deal with Eastern Europe. In AfricanRummy it is divided into north and south.

Yet another problem to overcome was addressing the issue of how a student would know whether he/she was correct in the building of a country or making a set without resorting to a separate answer key. Although an answer key is provided, it is more for the teacher than the students. To keep this instructional, students are encouraged to use an atlas to determine the correct answers. If no one can find the correct answer or if the teacher is using this for remediation, the teacher or a designated student may allow the students to use the answer key.