If you are like me and a proud parent of a 7-ish year-old boy, you’ve no doubt encountered Pokemon cards – you may have even been completely into them yourself as a youth (personally, I was more into Power Rangers). These cards with pictures of strange animal-like creatures are part of a trading card game similar to Magic, and my son LOVES them. So, why not try to make the most of this often expensive interest and make it educational? For the past few months, rather than playing the real rules of the card game, we play with them by taking turns “battling” each other’s Pokemon with their attacks and associated amount of damage until the opposing Pokemon’s health points (HP) are reduced to zero. Needless to say, this involves plenty of subtraction using mental math. I’ve noticed that after several months of playing, my son’s subtraction skills are getting stronger – he even explains what he’s doing in his head after each calculation. Plus, he’s willing to do this for, like, an hour or two. It’s amazing how much learning kids will do if the activity is a game or using something that they’re totally interested in. That’s what I’ll be bringing back to my classroom after the winter break. Whether it’s basketball, dancing, or Pokemon cards (my Grade 9s LOVE Pokemon, too), make math fun and relevant.