Playfulness is a cognitive process that nourishes young minds in numerous ways. Laura Robb emphasizes the unfortunate decline of play in classrooms, often edged out to accommodate more direct reading and writing instruction. But we can include games that also teach. One of these games is called Garbage or Trash. Not only does this game inject fun into learning, but it also seamlessly intertwines the teaching of key math concepts within an engaging, tens-frame oriented game setting.

Garbage introduces and reinforces numerical concepts and sequencing, thus enhancing number recognition and counting skills. Incorporating the ten-frame concept further augments essential abilities in pattern recognition and sequencing. As students engage with the game, plotting their moves and strategizing, they actively flex their critical thinking muscles. Each decision made within the game carries ramifications, nudging students to evaluate outcomes and refine their strategies. Additionally, the interactive and collaborative nature of the Garbage Card Game cultivates social connections, fostering a vibrant, positive classroom environment.

Here is how to play this simple card game:

How to Set-up the Game of Garbage

  • You will need a full standard deck of cards.
  • Each player gets 10 cards. The rest of the deck is set aside as a draw pile.
  • Players arrange their cards in two rows of five, like a ten-frame. The cards should be face-down and are not to be looked at.
  • The remaining deck is placed in the middle of the table, and the top card is flipped over to start the discard pile.

How to play the card game Garbage

  1. The goal of the game is to be the first player to get their cards in sequential order, from Ace (representing 1 to 10.)
  2. Players take turns drawing from the card deck or the discard pile.
  3. When a player draws a card, they can place that card in its corresponding position in their layout of 10 cards. For example, if a player draws a 4, they place that card in the fourth position. The card that was previously in the fourth position gets flipped over and then can be placed in its corresponding position, this can continue until the drawn or flipped card is a duplicate or a card that has a face-up card in its respective spot already.
  4. Kings are wild card and can be used to fill in any spot.
  5. If a player draws a card that can’t be used (either because it’s a duplicate of a card already face-up or it’s a Queen or Jack, which have no corresponding position), that card gets discarded, and their turn ends.

How to Win Garbage

  • The first player to have all their cards flipped over in sequential order from Ace to 10 wins the round.
  • The game can continue for multiple rounds, with the loser of each round receiving a penalty point for each of their unflipped cards.
  • The game continues until a player reaches a predetermined number of penalty points, at which point the player with the fewest points is declared the winner.

Embracing playfulness in the classroom is a transformative step towards creating a dynamic and fulfilling learning experience for your students. The Garbage Card Game offers a way to practice fun math skills and have fun and a sense of playfulness in the classroom. I think it is one of the most fun and perfect games!