Friday, October 26, 2007

Combining Like Terms Card Game Revisited

The Like Terms card game has been the most popular idea posted here, accounting for half of this blog's traffic since its inception. The truth is though, like most good ideas, it still needs work. I have been wracking my brain to find ways to simplify the game after watching many of my students get caught up in the rules and procedures because they don't have experience playing traditional card games (like rummy, upon which Like Terms was originally based).

My solution is to cut out all but the essential parts: the deck of "Like Terms" cards, having students create groups of 3-4 like terms, and adding or subtracting them (simplifying) when the game is over.

Simplified Rules for Like Terms
  1. Deal 7 cards.
  2. Players lay out their hand face up in front of them for all to see and arrange them into groups of like terms.
  3. Each player draws one card and tries to make a set of 3-4 like terms.
  4. Repeat until one player has a group of complete sets.
  5. The winner adds all of their terms together, but the losers add complete sets and subtract incomplete ones.
This setup also allows you to add a few new cards to the deck to create some new twists:
  1. "Killer" cards - Add cards that don't have any like terms in the rest of the deck, essentially ending a player's chances of winning since you can't complete a set. Maybe there's two like terms, but a third or fourth matching card doesn't exist (i.e. z2, x2y2, a4, etc)
  2. Skip, reverse and wild cards - My students may not know rummy, but they do know Uno, so you could add these to the deck as well.
  3. "Steal" cards - Action cards that allow players to steal one card from any other player that they need to complete a group, making the game a bit more competitive.
I think the original score sheet would actually work better with this version of the game as well.

If you have tried the original Like Terms card game in class or try out this new version, please email me or leave a comment. I want to continually improve the ideas posted on this site and I need your feedback to help me and the other teachers reading!