A GO card game

AGO Games

AGO cards are versatile and adaptable. Like a regular playing card deck, there are almost unlimited gameplay possibilities. Over a dozen classroom and home tested game ideas are listed below to help you get more out of AGO cards and help you maximize BOTH educational value and fun!

Fun and Educational!

AGO games aim to be both fun and very educational! In the Q and A games, players practice asking and answering the questions on their cards. When playing AGO Phonics, or Halloween, player must read and process the text on a card to play.
For best educational results only allow English in game!



AGO playing decks are designed around the timeless card game "Last Card", a "Crazy 8s" type game. This is often the "go to" game for many teachers and players using AGO.

Last Card has strategy and luck, and for some reason people never seem to tire of playing, so it's a good place to start!


Videos / Tutorials:

AGO Game Animation  
AGO Last Card Video Tutorial "Highest card wins" for AGO phonics demo AGO Q&A (1st Ed) animated tutorial (needs flash player)  




Easy, Warm Up Games

Warm up games are a great way to get a class into English mode. The games below are easy to set up, with few rules to learn. They also offer a way to gradually introduce the content on the AGO cards to beginners.

Quiz Show: (best with Q&A cards) the teacher selects and reads question cards from an AGO Q&A deck. Students raise their hand (or push a buzzer) to answer.  If correct, they collect the card. If not… the teacher should work with the student to guide them towards the answer – perhaps offering hints and extra info if needed. Most cards at the end, wins! The key to playing this game well is building up your base of questions each week. Also, with beginners you can ask a question several times in a row (perhaps with minor modifications). When doing this, give out an action card to subsequent students that answer correctly, so that they score a point, too.

Rock Scissors Paper: (for Q&A or Phonics cards) Spread a selection of AGO cards face down. Get students to mix them up. Pair up players (or put in groups of three). Groups each play rock scissors paper. The winner gets to choose a face down card. If it's a question card (i.e. Q&A version), they ask their opponent the question. If it's a "phonic card" (i.e. Phonics version), they read the card. If it's an action card (either version), the player keeps it, then picks up another card. The process repeats until all cards are picked up. Most cards wins!

Note: This game only works if the teacher actively makes sure students are kept honest, and fulfill the reading / interaction component properly. An easy way to ensure this is (after of course a pre game warning) the first time you catch a student cheating (i.e. they are just playing rock scissors paper as quickly as possible), pause the game, take all their cards and their opponents cards, and place them in the middle of the table again, resetting their score. They will quickly learn not to do this again.

Chit Chat: (Q&A) Spread a selection of cards face up on the table. Students take turns selecting cards and asking each other questions at their leisure until the teacher calls time.

Games for Small Groups

 (2-6 or so players). Note: Larger classes can play these games with a few adaptations, or for example using multiple decks.

1: Last Card: (Q&A or Phonics) A classic crazy 8's style 'shedding' card game, with a few unique twists, and optimized for the EFL classroom! The basic goal is to be first to get rid of all the cards in your hand. Players do this by on their turn matching the color or number of the previously played card. (download the full rules to this game on a nicely formatted, illustrated, easy to understand PDF file here).

2: Hunting: This game is easier and simpler than Last Card, but retains much of the excitement. Thus it's better for younger / new players, as there are fewer rules and players don't have to hold cards in their hand.

To set up, place a selection of shuffled cards face down on the table. Players take turns picking up cards, starting clockwise and follow the card's instruction (in Q&A this means asking the next player a question, in Phonics, players read the card). The objective is to score as many points as possible, and cards are worth their point value. If a player gets a pick up 3 card, they pick up three more cards (adding all these points to their score); The Jump a Player card causes the next player up to miss their turn, and scores 5 points; the Change the direction card also scores 5 points, and changes the direction of play; a Change color card scores ten points. Most points at the end wins. (download all the rules to this game).

3: AGO Fish: (Q&A) This game works along the same lines as the classic card game "Go Fish", but with a few twists. This game is lots of fun, has a memory skill element, plus games take a standard length of time (unlike last card). It's best with up to four players (up to 6 works ok, but the cards get exhausted pretty quickly unless you use two decks).

The objective is to pair up as many cards as possible. Any time a player forms a pair of cards, they can discard these onto the table in front of them. (Each player should collect their own pile of paired up cards). One point is scored for each pair collected, and the player with the most pairs at the end wins.

The player to the left of the dealer starts. On a player’s turn, they select a card from their hand and place it face up on the table. If a player plays a question card, the question is read out, addressed to the player of their choice, who must answer the question. If the answering player has a card of the same number in their hand, it is handed over after they reply, with the question asker scoring a point for making the pair. (After this success, the question asker gets to play again).

If the addressed player doesn’t have a card of the same rank, after answering the question, they call out ‘Go fish’, following which the question asker draws a card from the deck, then the player to their left takes their turn. The game continues in this fashion until the draw pile is exhausted, and all cards have been matched up.

If a player plays an action card, instead of asking a question, they ask another player if they have the same card (e.g. "Do you have a Jump card?")

NB: If a ‘pick up’, card is played, the player gets to pick up the number of cards specified, adding them to their hand (i.e. a pick up four card enables the player to add four extra cards to their hand). They also score half a point as they add the Pick Up card to their score pile. Following this, they take another turn.

If a player rids themselves of cards from their hand, they draw five new cards from the deck (or however many are left).

4: Double AGO Fish For 2-5 Players. This is essentially the same as AGO Fish, except players now pick up two cards when they 'go fish' - which speeds the game up (so you can play in less time, or with two decks).

5: Top Hand (AKA AGO Poker:) (for Q&A) This game works best with four - eight older, sensible yet energetic players. It's lots of fun and gets all players interacting at the same time, so it is also good for larger groups. However, it is a little demanding to learn rule wise (especially the first time you play), and not always appropriate. First, remove all Jump, Pick up, and Change direction Cards, then deal each player five cards. From here, players move around the classroom swapping cards with one another, trying to form the best poker hand they can. Players must ask and answer the questions on the cards they wish to swap, and cannot request a card. Change Color is wild, and the values of the poker hands are included on the games' instuction sheet. This game works best if you play several 'rounds'. The player with the highest cumulative score at the end, is the winner. (download all the rules to this game).

6: Splatter For 2-5 players. Splatter is based on the regular rules for AGO Last Card*, with these additions:

Splatter card (Green and Orange deck): This card causes all other players to pick up the number of Pick Up cards in play (e.g. if a Splatter card is played on top of a Pick Up 3, and a Pick Up 2 card, all other players would draw 5 cards). Splatter can be played on any card, and a new color is nominated after.
Double Play card (Orange deck, 1st edition only): This card allows a player to take two turns in a row. To use, a player first plays a question card (or cards if they are of the same rank). After their opponent has answered the question(s), the double play card can be played, along with a card (or cards) matching the color or rank preceeding the double play card. If a player cannot match color or rank, they instead draw from the deck.
Note: If there are not enough cards in the draw pile after a ‘Splatter’, all available cards are shared evenly by those who must pick up.
Erase card: This card spares a player from picking up. It is playable on any card, including a ‘Splatter’. A new color is nominated after.
Optional Advanced Rule:
Once Pick Up cards are in play: Jump a Player, Change Direction and Pick Up cards become playable on top of each other. However, Change Direction and Jump a Player cards must also match color or rank to be played in this situation.

7: Time Bomb: (AGO Phonics) This game is basically beat the clock hangman !

Draw a time bomb on a whiteboard, perhaps with a long wick that you can gradually erase over time. Mix some phonic cards face up on a desk (the more cards, the difficult it will be). Secretly select any key word from one of the phonic cards, and (a la hangman) write an underscore to represent each letter of the secret word on the whiteboard. (i.e. cat would be _ _ _).

Get an egg timer (or smart phone). Set it to count down from two minutes or whatever you deem to be challenging amount of time. Press start.

Play: Like in hangman, students raise their hand to suggest letters (or it can work better if students take turns in order). If they guess a letter that is part of your secret word, fill in the appropriate space, otherwise mark the letter down on the board. The basic idea is students scan the cards, and try to figure out the secret word.

On their turn a student can either suggest a letter, or guess the word (not both). First student to guess the word wins (and takes over your role as quiz master). If the timebomb goes off, you win!

Tip: When a student selects a secret word, get them to whisper it to you secretly, and write it down on a piece fo paper for them to refer to later.

8: Speed Slap:   (Thanks to Chris Sharp for his suggestions regarding this game) 

In this game, spread numbered AGO cards face up on a table (either phonic or Q&A cards). One player takes the role of leader. They select a card on the table, and read it out, without touching it, or indicating its location. The other players then race to locate this card. The first player to touch it, wins the card, then takes the role of leader. Most points at the end, wins.

9: AGO Solitaire: (Q&A or Phonics) You can also play solitaire with the AGO deck (a good way for kids to practice reading the cards at home - though not much speaking practice involved, obviously!) Use only cards 1-9. Set it up the same way you would for Klondike solitaire - except use only 5 columns instead of seven. The 1 Card is the Ace, the 9 card is the king. As with Klondike, players first play cards of one rank lower on top of each other - eg. you must play a 6 on a 7, a 7 on an 8 etc. Unlike Klondike, players can play any color on top of each other. As with Klondike, the goal is eventually to place all suits in order 1-9.

10: AGO MONOPOLY® (Q&A or Phonics)
Play Monopoly® with just the question cards.  The value of the card is used instead of the white dice.  The newer Monopoly games have a red dice to speed up the game and I keep using that.  If a student speaks Japanese they have to pay the bank $10 (they barely speak Japanese so I bumped it up to $20 or $50 to make it more entertaining).

11: With JENGA® blocks
Using only AGO question cards. A student takes a card and asks the person next to them the question.  The other student answers and then the student who asked the questions says "May I take a block?" and they take a block.  Meanwhile the next student takes a card.  Repeats until the tower falls.

Student picks up a card and asks the next student a question.  Then the student asks "May I take a bead?" and they pick up a bead and toss it on to the main BINGO sheet.  They call out the BINGO picture and everyone who has it says "May I take a bead?" and marks their sheet.

(Thanks to Philip of PIA Language School for providing the rules to use with MONOPOLY®, JENGA® and BINGO) 

13: MEMORY MATCH: (for AGO Phonics)

If you are lucky enough to own two copies of an AGO deck, you can play memory games. I.e. games where players attempt to find matching pairs of cards by turning over face down cards two at a time.

A little preparation is required to ensure that there are two copies of each card you wish to practice. Obviously, the more cards you play with, the more skill required and the longer the game will take. You can add a few wild cards (change color) into the mix as well if you wish.

13: EPIC SPEED MATCH: (for AGO Phonics)

If you have a fairly big class, and want to make it epic, try playing Memory match with pairs of all 36 cards at the same time spread out on a big table. Pair up players (or groups of three), and have each group simultaneously playing memory match (i.e. all players are involved at the same time). (Note the teacher has to be very vigilant here, otherwise students will cheat. Once again, a good way to stop cheating seems to be to catch a cheater, and make an example of them, by resetting their score.

14: And one more variant (for AGO Phonics)

Players have to elicit an extra example of a target phoneme on their turn. E.g. the d card would be read: dog, duck, donut, (dinosaur).

15: Find the phoneme “karuta” game:
Setup: Place all or a selection of phoneme cards FACE UP on a table. Put all action cards aside.
Play: The teacher / parent calls out a phoneme sound – e.g. “Gih”.
Students look around for the card. First to touch it keeps it. If students get stuck, even after repeating the sound several times, you can start to read out the anchor word examples one at a time (e.g. “gih, gih,  gorilla”)… If students still can’t find it… the teacher can touch the card (and score a point).
After a card has been touched, work with the students to read the words on the card, then pronounce the target sound last (e.g. “gum, golf, gorilla, gih”). The winner then keeps the card in a pile.
Get students to count their cards at the end. Most cards wins.
Other Notes:
In some cases, there may be two cards that make the same sound (e.g. the f card and the ff card). In this case, there can be two points up for grabs!
Don’t let kids touch multiple cards (i.e. they only get one (or perhaps 2) chances per round.
Note: It can work well to play this game for several minutes, then switch to another game such as “rock scissors paper battle” or “number battle”, with students holding onto the cards they have already won.

16: Highest number wins game:

Played with AGO Phonics cards (check the video as well). This game is similar to "Rock scissors paper" game, except the winner of a round is determined by card value. This game can be played in multiple groups of up to 4 simultaneously.


AGO magic fan


Games For Large Classes

The most important component for a game for large classes is that they get lots of students interacting at the same time!

Of course, you can play almost any AGO game with large classes so long as you have enough sets of AGO cards to split the class up into groups.

Interview Game:  (works with up to 32 players). For Q&A or Phonics. Each student is given one numbered card card. Players walk around the room, swapping their card with other players. To swap a question card, a player asks the question of their opponent, and after answering, they return the favour. With phonic cards, players read and swap phonic cards. To make things interesting, you can give each player a piece of paper, and get them to collect other students' signatures as they play. The player with the most signatures at the end, or first to get every signature, is the winner. Warning - this game is very noisy!

Rock Scissors Paper: (the rules for this game are printed towards the top of this page).

Rock Scissors Paper Knockout: In this game, each student is given a Question card, or phonics card. As with the interview game, they wander around the classroom encountering opponents. This time, however, instead of swapping cards, they enter a winner takes all game of rock scissors paper. The winner gets all of their opponents cards, and the loser is knocked out, becoming a spectator! Before too long, there are only two players left, battling it out for the entire stash of cards, and the crown! Note: if a player has a stack of cards, they just chose one to read out - a different one.

Games For Developing Speed & Fluency:

As students progress, and the target language becomes more and more well understood and internalized, you can get more out of students. One way to keep it challenging is to place emphasis on speed and getting multiple students interacting at the same time. Many games can be adapted to this end (for example you could set up multiple games of Last Card, and see who can be the first to finish first), or even just simply set a time limit for the game.

Some games that are particularly suited for developing speed and fluency:

Rock Scissors Paper, Time bomb, Top Hand, Interview game, Quiz Show (or an extreme variant!), Solitaire, Epic memory match.

And of course, many others - limited only by your imagination!