Friday, July 25, 2014

5 for 5: Free Printable Vertebrates Card Game

Have you ever played Phase 10? It's a rummy-type card game and it's the inspiration for this vertebrates card game that features examples from the five classes of vertebrates:

Download the free 9-page PDF from Google Drive here.
Print pages 1-8 on heavyweight white cardstock.
Print page 9 (a reference sheet) on plain office paper.
Use a paper trimmer to cut all the cards apart.

The Objective of the Game
Be the first player to complete all rounds of play. If all/both players complete the rounds at the same time, the player with the lowest score wins.

How to Play
Deal 10 cards to each player, who keeps their cards from opponents' view. The rest of the deck is placed in the middle of the play area and the top card is flipped over to start a discard pile.

The youngest player starts play by drawing a card either from the draw pile or the discard pile. Their turn ends when they discard one card.

Play starts with players trying to get all the cards necessary for Round 1. The rounds follow:

Round 1: 2 sets of 3
Round 2: 1 set of 3, 1 run of 4
Round 3: 7 cards of one class/color
Round 4: 1 set of 4, 1 run of 4
Round 5: 1 run of 7

Each player only makes one round per hand.

Sets are cards of all the same number. Runs are cards with consecutive numbers. And cards of one class/color are all the same type of vertebrate (e.g. all cards are reptiles).

WILD cards can be used to complete a round, in place of a missing card. For example, if a player is creating a run and has a 1, 2, and 4 card. They can use the wild card in place of a 3 card.

SKIP cards, when discarded, cause another player to lose their turn. Skip cards are never laid down as part of the round's cards.
Once a player has all the cards specified in that round, they lay them down on the table in front of them for everyone to see.  Any additional cards a player may have that go along with these cards can be added (e.g. if a player has four 3 cards, but only needs three, he/she can lay down the extra card).

The player can continue to add cards to their own displayed hand and once other players lay down their own sets/runs/all-one-color hands, opponents can play on them as well.

The goal is to get rid of all your cards, while drawing and discarding each turn.

If a player plays all their cards, opponents must tally their score based on the remaining cards in their hand.
Cards numbered 1-5 = 5 points
Cards numbered 6-10 = 10 points
Skip cards = 15 points
Wild cards = 25 points

If a player has yet to lay down all the specified cards in the round when another players goes out of cards, not only will their score be high, but the next time you shuffle and begin play again, they will need to repeat their attempt to get that round's cards again.

This means that players may be striving to make different rounds' hands.

Shuffle cards and deal 10 before each round.

Want a perfect book to go with this game? We read Animal School by Michelle Lord. It contains a description (in rhyming verse) of each of the five classes of vertebrates. It also has a great matrix toward the back of the book that identifies their characteristics (some exceptions) and species from each class. This book was the perfect complement to our activity!


  1. This is just awesome! Thank you for sharing your talents with us.

  2. I like all your stuff. It is all so useful and well made.
    Thank you for all your hard work.
    God Bless