My kids started showing interest in Pokémon cards before the recommended age of 6 years old. Reading and math skills were not ready for the full game. This is a simple version of the game that I created to play with them.
I played Pokémon as a child but the following rules do not require the adult to have any prior experience. This is level one playing and uses only two of the numbers on the card. This is Stage 1. We continued to add complexity as math and reading skills developed.
Obtaining Cards for Kindergarten Kids
At the beginning stages of collecting, kids do not distinguish between cards. They like the art behind the Pokémon. Maybe they like cute or maybe they like ones with lightning bolts. Everyone likes the shiny cards but do not worry about those at first stages.
Consider Second Hand Cards
Ask friends with older kids. Older kids can have massive collections, and by 12 years old, they (or their parents) are ready to pass them on to a new fan.
There are lots of Pokémon collections available on resell sites. We were able to pick up a collection of 300 cards (several booster packs worth) for $5 at LetGo.
Simplified Pokémon Card Game
Sorting the Deck for Easy Playing
A starter deck has 60 cards and is pretty complicated for a 5 year old. For purposes of explanation, I am going to focus on just the Pikachu deck and how to set it up for easy playing. At the beginning, we (my child and I) both played from one deck.
- Separate Trainers, Energy and Pokémon.
- Put Trainers and Energy to the side.
- Separate Basic Pokémon. These will be the only cards used.
If you are starting from a collection and not a starter deck pick out 20 “Basic” Pokémon. Select Pokémon that are all about the same HP (within 10-30 points of each other.)
Setting Up the Board
Deal the cards and each player will receive 10 cards to play. Each player takes the top card from their deck and will use it until it faints. (Pokémon never die in battle – they faint.) When my kids explain the games, they liken it to the card game War and tell their friends it is the advanced version.
Simplified Point System
For the point system, we simplify the counting using dice. Some of our Kindergarten friends do not know how to count by ten when we start but it has been fairly simple to explain.
Each dot on the die equals ten health points for the Pokémon. For each attack, we figure out how much is left. Using the dots on the die, it is easy to explain that they turn the face to the side with fewer dots. The Pokémon faints when their health is gone. The next card is pulled.
For beginning play, we limit the attack to only the first attack listed. Each player reads the name of the attack and then acts it out with sound effects. Acting makes it more fun and reinforces the words on the cards which may be outside a Kindergartener’s reading level.
When the attack does not have a numerical value but causes Paralysis or Poison, we counted the attack as having a 10 point value.
Finishing the Game
Honestly, when we first started, we didn’t make it through all ten cards. However, the idea is just to play a game together. As my kids were interested in these cards, we modified the game enough so we could play together. Even if we only made it through one or two cards, it was time well spent.