Number Bond game: ‘Old Maid’


Aim of game:numbercard

To find matching pairs of cards that total 10, and not to be left with the picture card.


  1. Everyone has three counters at the beginning of the game. These are points, a point is lost in each game.

  2. The number cards are shuffled and dealt out between the players.

  3. The players look at their cards but do not allow anyone else to see them.
  4. The person who dealt the cards starts, he looks at his cards searching for pairs that add to 10. If he finds a pair he puts the cards face up on the table.

  5. Next he holds out his remaining cards in a fan to the person on his right.
  6. This player chooses any card (without looking at it) from the dealers set. Now, she looks at her set of cards, if there is a pair that adds to 10 she places these down on the table.

  7. He/She then fans the rest of the cards and lets the next person on his right select one.

  8. Game continues until there will be two cards (‘5’ and picture card) left. The person with that card looses a point and must put one of his counters away.

  9. This is the end of the first round. The cards are now shuffled an another player is the dealer. The children continue playing until one of them has used up all of their counters.

With the cards 0 – 10, all but one will have a complimentary number to make 10. The 5 has no ‘partner’.

It is interesting to see if children notice that the same number is left each time they play. It is equally interesting to see if they can explain why this happens.

This game can be adapted to work with other number bonds. Bonds to 20 work well because there are more cards in play.

Some other teaching points to encourage children to think about:

  • Will the game work with number bonds to 5 (using the numbers 0 – 5)?
  • Will it work with bonds to 25 (using 0 – 25)?
  • With all of the numbers 0 to 6, what is the Donkey number – the one without a partner?
  • What about the numbers 0 to 100?


Taken from Donkey Number Bonds

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