If you are looking to get the most bang for your buck, check out these 4+ activities that reuse and repurpose U-Know cards!
You know that you love U-Know cards, but what do you do with all of those cards that you’ve collected over the last several years? With over 70 U-Know decks and bundles, many teachers have lots of these cards ready for students to use, and we want to help you find ways to use them more than once a year!
In recent months, we’ve been outlining ways to reuse and repurpose some of our best-selling resources in fun, engaging ways, and this month, we are talking about U-Know decks and cards.
(Want to read about some of the other ways you can reuse and repurpose your Fun in 5th Grade resources? Check out the blog posts below!)
- 13 Items to Pick Up at the Dollar Store this Year! (Even more repurposing U-Know ideas!)
- 3 Unexpected Ways to Use Task Cards
- Repurposing Game Show Slides
- Reimagining Close Reads
First, what is U-Know?
U-Know is a fun and engaging card game where students practice topics in a repetitive way. I also use U-Know in stations or with early finishers throughout the year to spiral concepts for students. U-Know comes in MANY topics! So, once students learn the game, it will become a self-run station!
U-Know is played with students matching color/number to the card the previous player put down. Once they put their card down, they must read and answer. If correct, play moves on. If incorrect, the player draws 2 new cards and play moves on. Students check answers with the included answer key.
Each U-Know game comes with over 50 cards that are designed to be printed in color or black and white, directions for students, accountability sheets that can be used for students to record their answers, an answer key, and some sets even have a ‘cheat sheet’ for differentiation and scaffolding purposes.
What teachers are loving about U-Know decks
Teachers have been loving U-Know decks for years. This is what some of our teachers have said about them.
I have been using your U-Know products for a few years now, and I have not found a group of kids yet who do not love playing this! I would highly recommend this purchase for most teachers and make sure to laminate them because there will be A LOT of usages!–Kelli T.
This is a great workshop activity to add to your toolbox. With everything in the bundle, you can use a different one each week, and it will be a station for the whole year!–Krystal L.
Fantastic value for money! My kids in years 4,5 and 6 tried some of the math ones out today, and they absolutely loved them! Thank you for such a great resource!–Amy S.
After getting so much love from teachers regarding the U-Know decks, we are proud to be able to provide even more ways for those same teachers to reuse and repurpose the U-Know cards they already have sitting around their classrooms.
New ways to play
Now that you know what the U-Know games are and what people love about them, I can’t wait to provide you with even more ways to reuse and repurpose your U-Know decks.
For the games described below, don’t be afraid to mix and match your U-Know cards from several decks. As students are introduced to the topics throughout the year, doing some of these activities as an ongoing review will keep the concepts fresh and fun for your students all year long.
These activities are also great for those days before and after a break when review is often better than learning new concepts.
Activity #1: Just Hanging Around
This one is easy. Just get some string or yarn and hang cards around the room from the ceiling within easy reach for your students. Every once in a while, hand out a sticky note to students and ask them to stand up and grab one. On their sticky note, they will put their name and answer their question. Afterward, students will attach the note to the card and hand them in. You can quickly review the answers and speak to any students who answers their question incorrectly.
Add to the activity: Provide students with print-outs of 10 stars. Each time they get an answer right when doing this activity, they will fill in one of the stars. Once they have filled in all the stars on their sheet, they can turn it in for a special prize or get their name on the leaderboard or whatever you like to do in your classroom to acknowledge student successes.
Activity #2: War
If you’ve ever played a game of War with playing cards, then this variation, which allows you to reuse and repurpose U-Know cards, should be easy to learn. In fact, you could have students play a few games with regular playing cards before introducing this U-Know card activity.
First, designate a handful of students to act as judges in the game. Then deal out 3 or more U-Know cards to the other students in the class.
On the board or on a poster board that you can reuse with this activity, write out the hierarchy for the U-Know cards.
- First, all cards are worth the number on the card (1-9).
- Then, all the cards that don’t have numbers (i.e., Skips, Draw 2, Wilds, etc.) are worth 10 points.
- Lastly, certain colors are worth more than other colors. For this, we use the rainbow to create the order, which means red will be the best.
Once students understand the hierarchy of the cards, they will pair up, and each pair will stand in front of one of the class judges. Each student will select one of their three cards. The goal is to both get the answer to the question right but also pick a question with a point value high enough (in the right color) to beat the other person’s pick (but they don’t know what the other person’s pick is yet.)
Once both students in the pair have chosen their card, they will pass it to the judge, who will ask each student the question they chose. The student will answer the question, then the judge will check the answer against the answer sheet to make sure it is right. If the student answers correctly, they will be able to play the card. If both students get their questions correct and are allowed to play their cards, the card with the highest point value will win. If the point values match, then the color of the card will determine which card wins, following the hierarchy outlined above. The students who win each round will collect both their card and the card of the opponent they beat. Then they will pair up with someone else and repeat the process.
- If one student gets the answer wrong, and the other answers theirs correctly. Then the student who answered correctly gets to collect both cards.
- If both students answer incorrectly, then the judge will keep both cards.
Students will pair up the same number of times as the number of cards they start the game with, so if they start with five cards, they will pair up five times until they have used all five of their cards. Their goal is to collect as many cards as possible, but they will not play any cards they collect again.
The students who collect the most cards at the end are that day’s winners.
Activity #3: Add-It-Up
I love these Add-It-Up ideas because it’s U-Know meets problem-solving and basic math concepts.
To do either of these Add-It-Up activities, you first need to establish the point value for each card. We suggest using the following values:
- Draw 2, Wild, Skip, and Reverse=10pts
You are always welcome to change the point values. For example, some people prefer to make wilds a larger number (like 12, 15, or 20pts). Really, point values are up to you, but consistency with them is key. Once you decide what the point values will be, create a poster or use a giant sticky note to post the values in the room when doing this activity.
We have two different variations of this activity. The first is a full-group option.
Add-It-Up with the full class
- Step #1: Hand out whiteboards and two cards to each student in the class.
- Step #2: Roll several dice. I suggest using 10 or more dice because you get a better number range. Once you’ve rolled the dice, ask a student to add them up and put that number on the board.
- Step #3: Call on a student (or draw a student’s name at random). The student you call on will choose one of their U-Know cards, read the question aloud, and then give the class time to answer the question on their whiteboards.
- Step #4: After the class has had time to write their answers, the student will look at their classmate’s answers and choose the one they think is correct. If they choose the correct answer to the question, the number on the card will be deducted from the total on the board. Then, you’ll call on the next student.
- Step #5: You’ll continue with this process until the number of points that the students have earned through their answers matches the number on the board exactly (without going over).
- As you get down to a low number, students may have to purposefully answer questions wrong so as not to go over. They will enjoy coming up with silly answers to the questions.
- The game ends when you are finally able to answer enough questions correctly to exactly match the total. Then you can start another round. The goal is for every student to use both of their cards AND end on exactly the right number on the final round.
- If you roll low numbers, it may take several rounds to use up all the cards, so the number of rounds you will play will remain fluid.
- The class will reach complete awesomeness status if they are able to use up all of their cards and end the game on exactly the right number. (Like when playing solitaire with cards, this isn’t going to happen every time, so really celebrate when the class is able to achieve this incredible feat!)
- Start a tracking board to show how close they get to hitting the final number each time you play. For example, if the number they are trying to reach is 23, and they already have 20 points, and only one student has a card left, and that card is a 7, then the game will end, and the class will have earned a difference of -4. Track that on the board, and next time try to get closer.
This second variation of Add-It-Up will require students to do a little more problem-solving.
- Step #1: Divide students into teams and then deal out the same number of U-Know cards to each team (we suggest around 25-30 cards).
- Step #2: The team will lay out their cards face up, so they can see the questions and point values.
- Step #3: The teacher will roll a set of dice (probably 5 or more each time) and write a series of 4 numbers on the board corresponding to the total number of dice (four rolls in a row). You may alter the number of numbers you write depending on the size of the numbers. If they are all really low, you may write 5-6 numbers on the board, but if your roll 4 high numbers, you may only write 4 numbers down.
- Step #4: The students will then use their cards to create five stacks of cards that add up to the five numbers on the board. Their goal is to use as many cards as possible to hit their goal and be the team with the fewest remaining cards.
- Step #5: Once the teams have created their stacks of cards, the teacher will move to the first group, receive the stack of cards from that group that adds up to the first number, and then read aloud the questions on the card. As long as the group answers the question correctly, the card counts. If they don’t answer the card correctly, that card is added back into the cards they didn’t choose to use.
- Step #6: After the teacher has rotated through all the groups and read the cards for the first number, they will begin rotating through the groups to read the cards that add up to the second number and so on until all the cards have been read.
- Step #7: At the end of the game, the groups will add up the total number of cards they have remaining (plus any they couldn’t answer), and that will be their total score. However, this game is like golf, so the winning team is the one representing the lowest score.
With Add-It-Up, it will be important that the teacher pay attention to the flow of the game. Since we are using dice to determine how the game is played, you may need to make slight adjustments each time you play to make it work. You may also play around with giving all groups the same exact decks to work with to even the playing field.
Activity #4: Matching
This is a simple activity that works well with small groups or pairs in a center-like environment.
To begin, sort the U-Know cards so there are 2 or 4 of each card with the same number value or label (i.e., Draw 2, Reverse, Skip, Wild).
Once the deck has been established, shuffle the cards and lay them out with the backs facing up.
Students will now play a matching game. They will flip one card, read the question, and answer the question. If they answer the question incorrectly, the card will be turned back over, and it is the other student’s turn. If the question is correct, they will flip a second question. If the point value matches, they will read that question aloud and answer it. If they get that question correct as well, they get to collect those cards as a pair. If they flip a card that doesn’t have the same point value, both cards will be returned face down, and it is the other player’s turn. The student with the most pairs at the end of the game wins.
Bonus Activity Suggestion
Reuse and repurpose U-Know cards while playing popular board games.
For example, students can play Candyland, but before students can draw a card to move their piece, they must first answer a question correctly. Or they can play a game of Sorry using the cards in a similar way the cards are used in the game.
Since the U-Know decks also have the same number of cards and colors as a typical deck of playing cards once the Wild cards are removed, you can also play almost any card game with the U-Know cards as long as you play the Reverse, Skip, and Draw 2 Cards as the Jacks, Queens, and Kings respectively.
We loved coming up with these activities that allow our teachers to reuse and repurpose U-Know cards in interesting ways, and we also love helping our teachers get creative with gamification in their classrooms. For more ideas on how gamification can improve learning in your classroom, check out this post.