The Games From our Pokemon Club

This Christmas time we had over 230 children join us for at least one day of our Hartlepool-based Pokemon maths holiday clubs!

Alongside teaching the Pokemon card game, we had small-group maths tuition and introduced a range of other board and card games, for children aged 5-11. These are the games we played, and why we chose them. The main purpose of all the games was that they would be enjoyed – there might be excellent games for practicing maths out there, but if they don’t bring children back for more, they’ll be less effective than those that you play for fun and the maths practice is incidental.

Pokemon Trading Card Game

Gather your Pokemon and pit them against another trainer – make use of special item cards to give you an advantage, and evolve your Pokemon as you go. Having just finished it’s 25th anniversary, the Pokemon TCG has been around for a long time now!

We use this every day in the club, for a few reasons. Firstly, many kids love it! And loads of kids have picked up the cards, but don’t really know how to play – so showing them the game brings their whole collection to life! It also includes loads of maths – just working out the damage at the end of every turn involves around 20-30 mental calculation.

Ideal age, 7+, 2 players


A twist on ‘snap’, a quick fire matching game, where every card has exactly one symbol matching. Not so much maths here, but spatial awareness, reaction times, and concentration are all warmed up with this 10 minute icebreaker.

Most of all though, it’s fun and fast, and appeals to the children who prefer a quicker pace with their game.

Ideal age, 5+, 2 or more players


Based on ‘Dutch Blitz’, you take your deck of cards and attempt to play them in the centre of the table, where there are multiple stacks of cards starting at 1 and moving up incrementally. All players are placing cards together, so this is another very fast game, that needs quick reflexes and fast number recognition.

Ideal age, 5+, 2-4 players

Hey, That’s My Fish

We chose this game because it has a chess-like strategy feel. You move your penguins (they can only move in straight lines) to collect fish from an ever-shrinking iceberg. Then, some simple addition at the end is perfect maths practice.

Ideal age, 5+, 2-4 players

Sushi Go

Perhaps the best family ‘pick and pass’ game. You get a hand of cards, pick one to score, and pass the rest on. Each type of card scores differently. Some just give you points, others you need to collect sets, or that you get points depending on how many of a type you have collected. We chose it because it uses numbers in lots of different ways – sometimes cards are added together, sometimes multiplies, and sometimes in simple sequences.

Ideal age: 7+, 2-5 players


Create the best zoo, by adding tiles to your board. This polyomino game uses strange shaped pieces you need to fit together most efficiently.

We chose it because it’s easy to make a shorter or longer game by removing some of the boards, it’s a great game for spatial awareness and shape and space, and practicing addition.

In our weekly Pokemon club this is one of our most played games!

Ideal age: 8+, 2-4 players – If you like this, the sequel Llamaland is now available too!

Machi Koro

Machi Koro is often compared to monopoly – you roll dice, collect money, and buy properties. But there’s no pieces to move, it’s the roll of the dice rather than the movement of a piece, that triggers the payments.

We chose this game because it’s a fantastic example of probability in action. The cards you have might make it worth rolling one or two dice, and do you pick the card that’s worth more but only triggers on a roll of 11 or 12?

Ideal age: 6+, 2-4 players


Kingdomino is all about multiplication and shape and space. You take a tile, place it in a space on your large square (your Kingdom), and at the end you count up now many tiles of a particular type you have, and multiply it by how many crowns you have.

Ideal age: 6+, 2-4 players

The Pokemon Christmas Club was part of Hartlepool Holiday Fun, funded by Hartlepool Borough Council and the DfE.