Salute: A Great Math Fact Card Game for Speed and Automaticity

I love integrating games into all subject areas, but especially math. The key is to find games that are rigorous, include tons of opportunity for learning/reinforcement, and that are so fun that students don’t even realize they are learning. One of my favorite games (and my students’ favorite) has always been “Salute.” Salute can be used to reinforce addition/subtraction or multiplication/division. I recommend starting with addition/subtraction, even if you are teaching an older grade.

Near the end of this post, I provide a link to where you can download the game instructions.

To play, students need to get into groups of three. For this game, it works best if the students in each group are at a similar skill level. Each group will also need a deck of cards, with the face cards and jokers taken out (just keep the numbers 2-10).

Two students sit facing one another, with the deck of cards between them. Player #3 sits off to the side so that she can see both players’ faces.


Player #1 and #2 each pick up a card, and without looking at it, place it on their foreheads as shown below. They can see what each other has, but they do not know which card they are holding.


Player #3 (who can see both cards) mentally adds the cards together and says the sum out loud. In this example, Player #1 is holding a 6 and Player #2 is holding a 10, so the sum is 16.

Once Player #3 has said the sum out loud, Players #1 and #2 each try to figure out what card he is holding. So if the sum is 16, and Player #1 can see that Player #2 is holding a 10, he can perform a mental subtraction equation to figure out what he has (16-10=6). The first player to correctly state which card they are holding keeps both cards. The player with the most cards at the end of the game wins.

Related: Revitalize your math classroom with these ten fun (and free) math games!

As you can imagine, kids LOVE this game! I’ve had grade 3 and 4 students beg me to keep playing. And there are so many great skills involved, most importantly the inverse relationship between addition and subtraction.

If you decide to play using multiplication/division, Player #3 multiplies Player #1 and #2’s cards instead. So if Player #1 has a 6 and Player #2 has a 10, Player #3 will say the product (60) out loud. Then the players perform a division equation to figure out which card they are holding. For example, Player #1 knows that Player #2 has a 10, so she can think, “60/10=6” to conclude that he has a 6. The multiplication/division version is pretty difficult for some students, so I have chosen to mostly use it as an enrichment option for specific students who have already achieved mastery of their addition and subtraction facts.

I’ve put together an instruction page for this game so that you can print it and keep it with you in your classroom. Download the addition/subtraction version for free HERE or the multiplication/division version HERE. You can also download these for free from TeachersPayTeachers HERE.



Looking for More Fun Multiplication Games?

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  • This is cute. I do something similar with the Hedbanz game. I didn’t think about adding the numbers. I give clues like, am I greater than, even, odd, multiple of, etc.

  • LOVE!!! I love that the materials are simply and the concept in one that students are much in need of practicing!

  • Shelley, just found your blog today and became a follower. I have to say, my kindergarten kiddos have been having a lot of trouble with addition and subtraction. I also LOVE using games in the classroom, and I think this game will serve many purposes! Thank you so much!

  • Wish that all math teachers will implement this. It’s simple and makes all the sense in the classroom. It does not include a pen and paper or blocks. Plus, it provides an avenue for interaction. – Marl of

  • Wish that all math teachers will implement this. It’s simple and makes all the sense in the classroom. It does not include a pen and paper or blocks. Plus, it provides an avenue for interaction.

  • Awesome! Can I translate it for my blog? I’ll give you all the credits. Children must try this in Brazil! ❤?

    • Hi Sigried. If you’d like to translate this blog post, and link back to my original post, that is okay with me. Thanks!


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