Stretching as far back as the earliest Chinese dynasty, playing cards were and still are a great way to pass the time.
The deck of cards has evolved from wooden plates to the paper stock we use today while the four suits of Spades, Hearts, Diamonds and Clubs were thought to have appeared around the 1300’s using the symbols of cups, coins, swords and sticks. The four suits represent the four seasons, and the 52 cards are the weeks in a year.
The reversible (upside-down) style first appeared in 1799 and the corners of all card decks were rounded to prevent them wearing out. It was in America that the Joker was first introduced to the deck.
Every family should have at least one pack of playing cards (full deck with Jokers) in their games collection. When travelling with children or at times like this when we are stuck at home, a pack of cards could turn into an excellent hand-to-eye lesson when teaching them to play Snap. A pack of cards can teach children maths and speed and develops memory skills.
You can lay out a deck of cards face down and ask children to find certain cards that match, such as two kings or two nines to improve numerics and memory.
Even learning to play Solitaire or the more aptly-named “Patience”, on your own as a child or young adult is better than being glued to a television and it’s much cheaper than a paying for an app or movie online.
There are versions of Solitaire that can be played with two people and the “Speed Solitaire” or “Demon Patience” as it sometimes known can cause screams of delight around the card table.
If you have a set of Uno cards, they are great entertainment that children can play together and keep them busy for a few hours – provided there are no disputes!
Switch, Take2 or Crazy Eights are all ‘grown-up’ versions of Uno. The objective in Switch is to be the first player to get rid of all your cards. Up to four people can play Switch with each player getting seven cards. Getting rid of your cards is the trick as you must follow the suit or the rank of the card in a ‘stock’ or discard pile. This game also has various versions according to where you learned to play it. Different cards have values that cause you to lose a turn, pick up five cards, reverse the order of play etc. You need to make sure you have two Jokers in your pack when you play, as these nasty cards play a role in making it almost impossible to get rid of all your cards and “go out” – just when you thought you could.
Five Hundred seems to a the national Australian card game despite being invented in America. Played with four players with a 43-card pack (take out the twos, threes, and black fours – then add a joker). It gets the name because the first team or player to reach a total score of at least 500 points is the winner. It is an extension of Euchre.
Contract Rummy or Gin Rummy are easy to learn and a fun way for the whole family to while away the time. Matching suits of a kind or numerical types requires some concentration but all ages can pick up the rules easily. Rummy is a classic card game where the objective is to be the first to get rid of all your cards, by creating melds, which can either be sets, three or four cards of the same rank