Number Showdown

by William Darling

William Darling is a graduate student in the Department of Educational Technology at San Diego State University and currently (as of 9/28/95) works as a Graduate Assistant in the Instructional Media Lab and is weird.

Instructional Objective

Given a deck of cards with integer values from 1 to 100, with each number displayed on three cards as numbers written as numerals, numbers spelled-out, and groups of base-ten blocks, the learner will be able to point out the greater of the numbers shown upon any two of the cards.

This card game is meant to provide multiple representations of a concept in order to solidify the concept in the learner's mind.


The audience for this game is first/second grade students. This game is to be played as a supplement to "number sense" instruction in order to help instill the relationship between numbers written in various manners. Children can play this game in self directed groups in order to practice, while the instructor would play a supervisory role over the many participating groups. Not only would this game be ideal in the classroom, it is a game that the students could play with their parents, friends, or other siblings.


A game is an appropriate format for this situation because While "number sense" and the concept of numbers and their value are very important to early elementary school students, curriculum constraints do not always allow time for the teacher to deliver adequate practice. This game would occupy the students, and allow the instructor to work closely with another small group while overseeing the other groups of students who play the card game. Since students, in general, enjoy games, and since this game is based upon the constant comparison of cards, making it a very suspenseful and active game, there would forseeably be high motivation for playing this game. Though this game is simple in concept and play, it supports important instructional concepts.


Number of players: 2

Method of play:

The rules of this game are similar to the card game "War".

  1. After opening the box of cards, all of the cards are dealt, faced down, by one of the participants into two "play" piles.

  2. The player who did not deal the cards then chooses which pile of cards s/he would like to use during the game.

  3. Leaving the pile of cards faced down on the table, the participants simultaneously turn-over the top card from their pile and place it faced-up in the center of the playing surface.

  4. Once turned, the participants compare the values shown on the cards. Whichever participant turned the card showing the greatest integer representation, then takes both of the cards and places them faced-up in a "win" pile next to his/her stack of faced-down cars. If the cards placed in the center of the playing surface are the same value, a showdown occurs.

  5. Once a player has exhausted his/her faced-down pile, the player may turn-over their "win" pile to become their "play" pile.

  6. Play continues until a specified time period has elapsed, or until one player has run out of cards.

Card Design The design on the back cards is colorful and varied in order to catch the eye of the player, and to add color to an otherwise white deck of cards.

The faces of the cards show integers represented by various forms ranging from numbers to verbally written numbers to base-ten blocks. Dots in the upper left-hand corner of card faces divide the deck into sections where blue represents the cards from 1 to 25, red represents the cards from 26 to 50, green represents the cards from 51 to 75, yellow represents the cards from 76 to 100. These marks are for the benefit of the instructor in order to facilitate the division of cards into number groups.

Deck Design

The deck is comprised of 300 cards. Of these cards:

  1. One-hundred represent the numbers 1 - 100 in written form.
  2. One-hundred represent the numbers 1 - 100 in numerical form.
  3. One-hundred represent the numbers 1 - 100 in base-ten block form.

Design Process

The initial design process was to conceive a game which would be functional as well as fun. Calling upon classroom experience I created this game to fill a niche in the classroom environment. With the advice of an elementary school instructor, I finalized the design of the card game "Number Showdown."

Last updated by William Darling on September 28, 1995.

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Educational Technology 670, Fall 1995.