Animals have these advantages over man: they never hear the clock strike, they die without any idea of death, they have no theologians to instruct them, their last moments are not disturbed by unwelcome and unpleasant ceremonies, their funerals cost them nothing, and no one starts lawsuits over their wills.

Voltaire (1694-1778)

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Big number practise
elementary aged and up
2-4 minutes
Class Size:
Energy Level:
Noncompetitive Whiteboard game
Board, Marker, Eraser, Timer

AIM: The activity has two parts. In the first part numbers are written onto the board. In the second they are erased. The aim is to clear the board completely within a 90 second time limit.

Method: Write a single digit number on the board, elicit an answer. Eg you write 1 the group calls out "one". Next enlarge the number by writing the same digit again, so 1 becomes an 11. The group calls call out "eleven". Keep going until the group start to struggle. At this point start again with a new digit somewhere else on the board. Keep going for a couple of minutes. Then put down the marker and pick up a board eraser. Tell the group they will take turns calling out numbers for you to erase. Tell them they have 90 seconds to try and clear the board. Point at one group member get them to say a number and start the timer.

If any number is said correctly erase it but if a different number is called out write it on the board. To choose the next person to say a number take the last digit and count around the group by that number.

ALTERNATIVE: Rather than allowing group members to call out any number point at the number you want the next player to say.

ALTERNATIVE:Of course the game time limit can be varied. Less experienced learners will need more time. Also when making numbers at the beginning it may be necessary to introduce the words hundred, thousand and million.