Learning Activities · Small Manipulatives

52 Card Pick Up

Do any of you have children obsessed with cards? Both of my girls want to play with a deck…or fight over a deck. Either way they are a very hot item. My oldest and I have made up all sorts of simple card games. Of course the 2 year old wants to get in on the card fun. Here is an easy and simple way to turn a deck of cards into an educational activity.

Grab yourself an old container. It needs to be big enough for a deck of cards to fit into it. We went with an old Oatmeal container. You simply slice a slit in the lid. If you have a younger child just stick with one oversized slit. My girls are a bit older so I decided to go with 2 slits and not much bigger than the size of a card. This increases the dexterity needed to slip a card through the lid. We also colored red around one slit and black around the other.


I had planned to glue some cute paper around the oatmeal bin but my daughter was not willing to wait. It only took one explanation of which color went where. She loved picking up a card and telling me where it went.

For some reason this activity captured her attention for 15 minutes or so a couple times this morning. With an activity like this you want it to be just a bit hard. If it is too easy then little ones lose interest very quickly, if it is too hard then your container might end up with a foot through it…at least in my house that could happen. So think about the level your child is at and try to make it just a bit challenging.

The best part of this activity is mommy has given toddler free reign of a deck of cards. Every time we’d open the container she would ask “Dump?” over and over. I don’t think she trusted me.

After my sweetie got her fill I was able to wrap the container in some cute paper and use some permanent marker for the color. Defiantly use permanent marker!



To add a little action to the game spread the cards around the room. Then you and your little race to pick them up and slip them into the right slit. My 2 year old thought this was pretty funny and LOVED that I was playing too.

For my older child we made up a game where the red is for BIG numbers and the black is for the little ones. She looks at the number on the card and decides if it is a big or small number. You can also use this version after spreading the cards around the room and racing to pick them up.

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