teaching resource

Counting to 20 Match-Up Cards

Teach Starter Publishing
Google Slide, PDF | 9 pages | Grades: K - 1

Count objects up to 20 with our match-up card game.

Teaching students their numbers is more than just identification. 

It also includes showing students that numbers have a corresponding value as well. And that’s where things might go a wee bit off the rails. 🚧 

Don’t let confusion take hold. Instead, break through the abstract idea of counting and make it concrete with our counting objects matching game! 

Through this activity, students will show they can count a set of objects up to 20, and demonstrate that the last number they say is the total amount in the set, regardless of their arrangement or order. 

Have Fun While Counting Objects to 20

Use this resource in your math center, as a small group activity, or a whole class exercise (see below) to practice counting objects within 20.

To play, shuffle the cards and lay them all face down in the center of the playing area. Students will take turns flipping 2 cards to look for a matching number of objects. The player who finds a match keeps the cards and takes another turn. If the cards aren’t a match, turn them over in their spot and move on to the next player. Continue until there are no more cards left in the playing area. The player with the most matches in the end wins!

Scaffolding + Extension Tips 

Challenge students who already understand the concept to order the cards from least to greatest or greatest to least. 

Support students who need help understanding the concepts by providing manipulatives like counters or connecting cubes; they can place one on each picture as they count. 

Get our 10 Best Scaffolding Strategies here! 

More Ways to Practice Counting Objects to 20 in ONE Game! 

Use this resource as independent practice for fast finishers and full-class learning opportunities like scoot activities, lesson reviews, formative assessments, and more.

🐟 Go Fish (Beginner)

It’s easy to turn these cards into a game of Go Fish! Shuffle the cards and pass out 5 to each player. The remaining cards go in the center of the play area. Taking turns, players count the number of objects on a card and ask each other for its match. 

🏃‍♀️ Matching Objects Relay Race (Intermediate)

Split students into two teams and have them line up in their group on one side of the room. Lay one set of objects cards (each a different total) in a central location between teams. Shuffle and divide the remaining 8 cards amongst teams, placing the piles face down at the front of their line. When you say, “Go!” the first player in each line will grab the first sorting card, run to the other side of the room, and match it to the card with the same number of objects. Then they’ll run back to their group and tag the next person in line. That player will grab the top sorting card, run to the other side of the room, and place their card where it belongs. Play will continue until one team has matched their cards correctly, winning the round. 

🧑‍🏫 Show Me! (Advanced)

Give each student a mini dry-erase board and a dry-erase marker. Project an object card and have students count and write the number of objects on their whiteboards. When everyone has written down their answers, say, “Show Me.” Students will flip their boards, allowing you to see who needs extra support with this skill.

Easily Prepare This Resource for Your Students

Print on cardstock for added durability and longevity. 

These cards were designed to be printed on both the front and back of the paper so that the images are on the front side of the card and the name of the game is on the back.

Follow these directions to print double-sided cards:

  1. Click on the printer icon or select File from the navigation bar, and select Print from the dropdown menu
  2. From the dialogue box that pops up, next to Pages, click on All and select Custom
  3. Enter 2-9 to ensure the cards print front to back
  4. Click on More settings
  5. Pages per sheet should be set to “1”
  6. If it is not already selected, check the box for Print on both sides
  7. If it is not already set to Flip on short edge, use the dropdown to make this selection
  8. Click the Print button

To print only page 1, use the directions above to step 3. 

Cut on the dotted lines and place all pieces in a folder or large envelope for easy access. 

Before You Download

Use the dropdown icon on the Download button to choose between the PDF or Google Slides version of this resource. 

This resource was created by Allie Kleijnjans, a teacher in Pennsylvania and Teach Starter Collaborator. 


You can count on us for more counting activities that entertain, engage, and educate your students! 

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