Go Fish Card Game

(For Ages 5+)


  • Deck of cards
  • Two or more players

Recipe for Fun!

Think you need a special deck of cards to play Go Fish? You don’t! A standard deck of 52 cards will do. The goal of the game is to collect as many complete sets of four numerically matching cards (one from each suit) as you can. Players can collect the cards they need from other players, or by “fishing” from the cards in the center.

Tip: When laying out the blocks on paper, be sure to mix up the sizes and colors before you start tracing. Enlist older kids who need an activity to create game boards.

How to Set Up a Game of Go Fish:

  1. Deal five cards to each player
  2. Place the remaining cards in the center, face down
  3. Mix the center cards so that they are scattered between the players like fish in a pond

How to Play Go Fish:

  1. The youngest player goes first
  2. Player A chooses another player and asks for a card. For instance, “Player C, do you have a four?”
  3. The other player, in this case Player C, must tell the truth and turn over the requested card to Player A if it is in their hand. If the other player does not have the requested card, they would tell Player A to “Go Fish!”
  4. If a player is told to “Go fish!” they pull a random card from the center and add it to their hand.
  5. If a player gets a set of four matching cards, they must lay down the matched set immediately in full view of the other players.
  6. After a player is told to “Go Fish!” and selects their random card, their turn ends. If they successfully secure a requested card from another player, they get another turn.
  7. Play continues until one player runs out of cards.

How to Win a Game of Go Fish: The game may be played until one of the players runs out of cards, but that doesn’t mean they are the winner! The game is won by the player who has collected the most sets of four like cards. So, unlike other card games that incentivize the player to “go out” as quickly as possible, Go Fish players are incentivized to stay in the game and collect cards. 

Go Fish Card Game Strategy: Do Players Have to Lay Down Matched Cards Immediately? Yes! As soon as a player collects a set of four numerically matching cards, they must lay them down face up so other players can see. If they choose to hold the cards, they are putting themselves at great risk of losing. If a Player A goes out while Player B is holding a set of four matching cards, Player B does not get to count those four matching cards in their total - which could cost them the game. 

What Kids Learn from Playing Card Games like Go Fish: Kids learn so many skills from card games. Games are an excellent way for children to develop cognitive skills like problem-solving, critical thinking, planning, matching, and sorting. But it’s not only cognitive skills that kids pick up during card play. Learning to pick up on non-verbal cues by reading facial expressions is key to building a strong foundation of communication skills. And of course, kids need to learn how to win and lose with grace - an important lesson in social skills that lasts a lifetime!

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