November 13, 2011

Teachers on FLTEACH have been sharing their ideas for teaching and practicing numbers. Here are some of them:

Here are several things I do to teach numbers in Chinese:
1. Toss a yarn ball around a small circle; each time you catch it, you have to say the subsequent number. In larger classes, we race. I set the timer for 2 min. and the group that gets to the highest number wins.
2. When they get good at that, start counting by 2s, 3s, etc., backwards...
3. Don't just add the dice, multiply them.
4. Use more dice to add and/ or multiply.
5. Play the 24 game; teach the words for +, -, x, /, and = to go with it. [editor’s note: see explanation at]
6. For the lower numbers, I also have them play Go Fish, teaching them the vocabulary to go with it.
7. Play any card game involving numbers, essentially.
8. Play Buzz/ Bizz Buzz: in a cirlce (more than one if your class is big). Set the multiple for "buzz" (i.e. 3). Each person says 1 number: 1, 2, "buzz" whenever you get to a multiple of 3. Bizz is for numbers that have a 3 in them, but aren't multiples of 3 (i.e. 13).
9. Play any elementary math game.
10. If you have a Smartboard/ Promethean board, use the dice roller function, increasing the # of dice as they get better, and use other math operations. Add to it by having them use those numbers as repetitions of exercises (i.e. jumping jacks, jumps from side to side, etc.).
11. Get an inflatable ball/ cube with multiplication facts written on it (or make one yourself). Toss it around- when you catch it, you have to say the fact and answer on which your right thumb landed.

B. Hsu-Miller. Re: [FLTEACH] Teaching numbers. FLTEACH listserv (FLTEACH@LISTSERV.BUFFALO.EDU, 27 Oct 2011).

Chris Biffle has a game called Superspeed Numbers; you can download the instructions from

An idea that I obtained from the [FLTEACH] archives is to white-out all the numbers of a connect the dots picture, put numbers I want them to practice. On another sheet of paper, put the answer key or the numbers in order to make the picture. Then it becomes a paired activity. One student reads the numbers out loud to another student who connect the dots to make the picture.

Another activity my kids love to play is Manotazo. It is a game played in Mexico and South America by children. My instructions are below: I use 1-15, but really you could have them count by tens.

1. Obtain playing cards
2. Deal an even number of cards to each player, there shouldn’t be any remaining. Players do not look at the cards.
3. The person to the right of the dealer begins by placing one card face up and saying “uno”
4. The next person lays down a card and says “dos” and third does the same saying “tres”
5. When the number of the card matches the number said, all the players must hit the pile of cards, the last person that hits the cards must take all of the pile.
6. When you no longer have any cards, you must continue playing by paying attention until the next “hit”.

Winner is declared by the player who runs out of cards.

Villegas, C. Re: [FLTEACH] Teaching numbers. FLTEACH listserv (FLTEACH@LISTSERV.BUFFALO.EDU, 26 Oct 2011).

Here are two activities specifically for French:

An old FLTEACH post from 2003 describes the game “99.” You can read a description of it in the FLTEACH archives:

We’ll feature more ideas for working with numbers in next week’s InterCom.

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