Go Fish Skunk: A Card Game for Teaching Math

On May 10, 2012, in Differentiation, by Nicole Lantz

Our simple twist on Go Fish creates a natural inclination to ask for pairs of higher numbers to win. Since the student has to count higher once they get a high-value pair, he or she is self-selecting their degree of difficulty when they call out “Do you have a…” Try grouping by ability for your differentiated elementary classroom (Ages 3 to 6).

(Image by Rachel Lakatos)

1. Set up a card game as you would for Go Fish with 2 to 6 players (Each student gets 5 cards, etc). As a demonstration, include yourself in the first round of play.

2. Ask “Do you have a ….”

3. When you get a pair, instead of laying it in a pile, count up the total number of items on the card. E.g. If you have a pair of 4s, count the total to get 8.

4. Peg the total on a crib board. This gives a visual representation of progress. Show the students how to peg, leaving one in place to hold the spot and bringing the other game counter ahead to count.

5. Whoever gets to the end first, wins.

6. After a few rounds, explain the skunk line if there is one on your cribbage board. This is when you get to the finish before the opponent makes it to the half way mark. (In other words, you don’t just win, you really win). Everyone loves a good skunk and it adds some vigor to the game. (Naturally, it invariably gives you the opportunity to introduce the concept of being a good sport).


- recognizing numbers
- counting to 20
- basic addition


1 cribbage board (As a scoring device only)
1 pack of cards

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