The "15 game" - a competitive arithmetic game

Here's a cool two-player game for younger or older kids alike!


It works in younger kids to build up their arithmetic skills, and in older kids to build their logical thinking skills. The prerequisites? Just the ability to add a few small numbers together.

You need some cards

You need some cards, printed with the numbers 1 to 9. You can easily make this yourself, or just use ordinary playing cards. I've also prepared a set you can download, print, and cut out. If you are making a whole lot of sets for your class, and if they can be trusted with scissors, you can get them to do the cutting out themselves.

To play the game

  • the cards are placed on the table (or floor) between the two players.
  • players take turns to choose a card (any card they like) from the pile.
  • the winner is the first to have a set of three cards that add to 15.

For example, if you drew 1,5,6 and 8, then you would win, because 1+6+8 is 15. Unless of course, I had my set of three first!

For younger children

For younger children, you could place the cards face down. Then they can concentrate on the arithmetic, since they can't see the numbers before they choose them. For older kids, it makes a more exciting game if the cards are face up.

Extra exciting!

To make it extra exciting for an older group, you could have a "15 game" class tournament! You could even make it span a whole semester, with league charts and so on pinned to the wall of the class.

If you like what you've just read, sign up for this site's free newsletters:
  • Monday Morning Math: A weekly email of fascinating math facts - how math works in everyday life.
  • New Game Alerts: Be first to know when I upload new games.
Get these free now! Enter Your Email:
Then Click Here To Subscribe Now...
Or if you prefer, you can see past issues of the newsletters, or get more information before signing up.