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Many games are too complicated for the youngest toddlers to grasp, but there are plenty of games you can play with a regular pack of playing cards that will introduce the whole gaming concepts to toddlers. A pack of cards consists of 52 cards and 2 jokers - that's probably too many for most games, but pick out a suitable number of cards for your purposes, based on the capabilities of your little ones.
Pairs is a great game for toddlers. Select your cards, maybe two suits to match numbers, or perhaps two cards from each suit (8 cards in total) to match suits. You could just match red cards and black cards. Lay the cards out face down and, in turns, turn two cards over. If they match, you keep them. Toddlers may not understant taking turns but they can play alone as a challenge. Pairs will help develop mental ability, colours and numbers.
Practice counting by taking ten cards from Ace to Ten, shuffle them and have your toddler lay the cards out in order. This will also help tune their motor skills with careful laying out.
Hi-Lo is a great way to teach values. Lay ten cards out, face down, in a row. Turn over the first card, and ask your little one to guess whether the next card will be higher or lower in value than the first. Then turn the card over and see if they were right. This will help to develop notions of quantity as well as reasoning and decision making.
Old Maid is more advanced for little ones. Take two suits of cards and remove one of the two Queens. Deal the cards out, and have each player discard any pairs. In turn, offer your cards, face down, to the player on your left. That player takes one card and if it matches one of their own they discard the pair. If not, they keep the card. Play continues until the losing player is left with the odd Queen!
Play with cards, balancing them to stand them up, lay them into patterns on the floor or lay out lines to use as roads for toy cars. A pack of cards introduces limitless games helps your little ones practice numbers and many other skills.
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