# Resource 1: Games to practise numeracy skills

Teacher resource for planning or adapting to use with pupils

1. Numbers game

This is a game from the Mbundu tribe in Angola, West Africa. This numbers game is played by children as soon as they are old enough to count. The game is non-competitive and encourages cooperation. The numbers one, two, three, four and five are called out in the local language of the pupils. (As they become better at it, you can increase the numbers and use different languages such as English or another Ghanaian language.)

It is best to play this game with the whole class. One pupil acts as the ‘caller’.

1. One player is chosen to be the caller. The remaining players gather in a circle.
2. The caller shouts out a number between one and five, then the players group themselves accordingly. For example, if the caller calls out ‘mbili’ (two), the players then scramble into groups of two.
3. If there are leftover players, they form their own group and shout their number to the caller.
4. Play continues with the caller calling out different numbers for three more games, then a new caller is chosen.
5. For more of a challenge, play this game in several different languages to represent each culture in your classroom.

2. Ludo

A simple children’s board game for two to four players, in which the players race their four tokens from start to finish according to the way the dice falls.

Adapted from: Masters Games, Website
A typical Ludo board

Players take it in turns to throw the dice and move their tokens round the board. When a player throws a 6 they have the option to start to move another token around the board. If a player’s token lands on a space that is already occupied by another player’s token, that player has to remove their token from the board and wait until they have thrown a 6 to start again. The winner is the first player to get their four tokens to the centre of the board landing on their matching coloured area.

A Ludo board

3. Snakes and ladders

Players take it in turns to throw the dice and move their tokens around the board. If they land on the bottom of a ‘ladder’ they go up to the square at the top of the ladder. If they land on a ‘snake’s’ head they travel down to the square at the tail of the snake.

4. Bingo

This is a game of chance where randomly selected numbers are drawn on a bingo card which includes blank squares. One example is below:

A bingo board

One person, ‘the caller’, writes the numbers 1–100 usually on small balls (but you could use cards). The caller then selects these one by one without looking and calls the numbers out. If the player can match that number they cover the number on their card with a counter, or cross it off. It is important that the caller remembers to keep the numbers that have already been called separate, as they will need them later for checking. The caller selects and then calls until one person has covered all the numbers on their card and shouts out ‘BINGO!’. The caller needs to check their card is correct and declares the person the winner.

5. A loop card game

‘Loop card’ games keep pupils ‘on their toes’ and listening, as all are involved and they do not know when their card will come up.

## Instructions

Each card has a number such as 12 (or any other number) and a question. The question can simply be about adding or multiplying numbers, or could involve all four rules of number depending on what you want the pupils to practise. You can therefore make different sets of these cards, easy and hard, to use at different times. For example, some cards could help pupils who have particular problems with larger numbers. The examples in the picture below are about halving and doubling.

You need enough cards for each pupil to have one card. You could also make cards using money, distance etc. as a topic.

To play the game, the pupils could sit at their desks or you could organise them into a big circle. Give out a card to each pupil. Choose one pupil to start by reading out their question. The child who has the correct answer stands up and says the answer. If they are correct, they read their question. The child with the correct answer to this new question stands up and reads out their question and so it goes on until all the pupils are standing (or sitting if they all start standing up).

Do not have more than one card with the same number as this will confuse the pupils. You can use this game often as your pupils will get different cards each time. It is a good activity to use at the end of a lesson when all other work is finished, and is good practice for their mental mathematics skills.

6. The triangle number game

The triangle number game is the most versatile mathematics game for primary children. The game is played much like dominoes, where numbers are matched to each other to make a pattern. Two sides of the triangles are put together according to a chosen rule. In the example below, the ‘rule’ is that the two numbers must add up to 9.

Some triangle cards

For older pupils, the winner is the one to finish their cards first, but younger children usually play cooperatively. The game is best with 2–4 players, although it can be used by one as a ‘patience’.

Adapted from: Jenny Murray, Games Website

Resource 2: Table to record numeracy skills