Teach Through Games: Clever

Teach Through Games: Clever

Age level: Early Elementary, Upper Elementary 

Description: I first learned about Clever on kickstarter, where it had a crowd-funding campaign back in January. The concept of this deck of cards is incredibly simple: each card has a letter or number, a color, and an object. The deck has 72 cards, providing an opportunity to play a wide range of entertaining and challenging games. 

Each card has one clearly pictured object, a number or letter, and a color.

Each card has one clearly pictured object, a number or letter, and a color.

There are many reasons this game is my favorite release of the year. First, it encourages creativity and innovation. One of my students devised a way to play a version of Go Fish with the cards. Another student changed the definition of “sequences” to include skip-counting such as  2, 4, 6, 8  or 3, 6, 9. 

A second reason I love it is that the cards are high quality and look like a more mature playing game. This allows me to practice basic skills with older students who may be struggling with simple addition without resorting to the use of babyish materials. 

A final reason is that the cards are engaging for a wide range of skill and age levels. You can play the same game with children of different ages or skill levels and they’ll all be able to participate. 

Skills & Modifications: As aforementioned, there are a wide range of skills you can practice with this set of cards. I rarely make modifications, instead I choose a game that matches the learner’s skill level or area of interest. Therefore, I’ve described each game included in the instructions below. The Clever deck of cards can be used to practice several skills, including scanning, feature, class/category, number & letter recognition, sequencing, spelling, addition, number order, skip counting, and managing information.

THREE: This is a game that can only be played with the Clever deck of cards. In Three, the goal is to be the player with the fewest cards in your hand at the end of the game.  There are three cards placed in a row on the playing surface. The player announces how many cards are related to one another by saying zero, two, or three. For example, in the picture below, two cards are related to each other (BY WHAT RELATION.) Players then take turns placing cards on top one of the three piles to either maintain or increase the number of relations. This game does not require modifications. 

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In this situation, there are two cards related to one another. The van and the baseball are both white.

CLEVER RUMMY: Clever Rummy is played just like traditional rummy, but instead of placing cards in sequences of the same suit or number, you have a range of options for how to organize cards to play for points. You can lay down any cards that are related to each other, such as three or more cards in the same category, in a sequence such as A-B-C or 4-5-6, that are the same color, that make an equation such as 5-2-7 since 5 + 2 = 7, or that spell a word. This game has been a big hit with my students. 

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The middle of a round of Clever Rummy: I had been able to spell GRIN, my student was able to play a set of pink cards and a set of cards that all pictured balls.

SPEED: When I was in elementary school, I played Speed with my friends all the time. This game holds a special place in my heart! This is played just like traditional speed, except you can play cards that related in any way. See the example picture below.

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This illustrates cards that are related to one another in a game of speed.

TIC TAC TOOK: This has been another very popular game with my students. To play this game, players place cards on an “imaginary” tic tac toe board. Their goal is to create rows (horizontal, vertical, or diagonal) of related cards. If they create a row, they get to keep the cards in that row. The winner is the player who has the most cards at the end of the game. I have made one modification for some of my students to help them engage with this game. As pictured below, I’ve created a clear tic tac toe board using construction paper and chalk to help them visualize the spaces in which cards can be played. 

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The simple modification I made for introducing Tic Tac Took to students.

Pros: Clever is a great choice for peer play, as players of multiple ages and skill levels can enjoy the games you can play with deck. As I mentioned above, I love that this game encourages children to create their own games using the deck of Clever cards. One of my students and I devised a version of Go Fish to play with the deck. He and his brother frequently play the game together now, and they’re both entertained although they are different ages and skill levels. 

Cons: None. This is a must-have game.

clevercardgameCost: $19.95 You should invest in this game if: you like fun! I really believe that this should be a standard deck of cards for both families and schools to use for free time. You can click here to buy the game on Amazon. 

ABLLS: A10, B18, B19, B25, G25, G27, G29, R9


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