No matter the age, I always introduce my students to Pyramid Solitaire.  In just a few minutes of watching them, I know a lot about their number sense.  In this game, the player must add up two cards to 13.  As I watch them play, I can see if they are counting on their fingers and how long it takes them to come up with the number combinations to make 13.

The  more and more we play this game, the faster my students get at making pairs.  They start to see that numbers are flexible and that there is more than one way to make 13.  I know that sounds strange, but even my middle school students have struggled with this too.

The other reason I like Pyramid Solitaire is because of the strategy involved.  You have to pay attention to which cards you are putting together and the ones above that you haven't gotten to.  It's also a quick game to pull out and fill time with.  There's no need to gather another player because you play it all by yourself.

Here is my newest student playing Pyramid Solitaire.  She actually won on her first try!  A feat that my other students would have been shocked at.  This game has been a favorite for a long time at tutoring.

Here is the procedure for Pyramid Solitaire:


52 Deck of Cards


Remove all the cards from the pyramid.

Card Values:

King = 13
Queen = 12
Jack = 11
Ace = 1

Setting up the Game:

Shuffle the deck of cards and then create a pyramid starting with the first row of one card, then the second row of two cards, continuing on until you have made seven rows with seven cards in it.

Use remaining deck of cards to pull from (a draw pile) when you can not combine cards to make 13.

Playing the Game:

The player will select two cards from the pyramid to add up to 13.  If they are unable to do so, they can pull from the draw pile.  Any card laying on top of another card is available to be matched up with another, if the card is under a card, it is unavailable for play.  Refer to picture above.

The game is over when the entire pyramid is cleared or the draw pile is empty.

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