Here is a list of the top five numeracy lesson starters for teachers and parents to use with children. This is the third instalment of numeracy lesson starters on my blog. These activities and games require minimal equipment and are extremely fun and easy to play. The games can be used at the start, middle or end of a lesson. The students will often learn more and be more engaged due to the fun and competitive nature of these activities.


The Price is Right

Equipment: None

 Description: The class starts by sitting on the floor together. The teacher chooses two students to be contestants to come up to the front and sit with their backs against the board (facing the class). The teacher then writes a number on the board and must explain the number range; for example, Grade One can use numbers from 1-10. The two contestants must take turns guessing the number. After each guess, the class must respond with either ‘more’ or ‘less’. The student who eventually guesses the correct number wins the game and two new contestants are chosen. The difficulty of the game can be changed by extending the number range; for example, for Grade Three, the number range could be 1-100; Grade Seven, 1-1000.

The Line Crosser

Equipment: None

Description: Students line up facing the teacher. The teacher says, “Cross the line if____.” If the students agree, they cross to the line on the other side of the room. If they do not agree, they stay put. For example, if the teacher says, “Cross the line if one plus one equals three,” students have to decide whether to cross or stay put. Any student who crosses when they shouldn’t (or fails to cross when they should) sits down. Continue until one student is left. As students are eliminated, make problems more challenging.


Equipment: None

Description: This game is aimed at improving the times tables the class is focusing on. For example, we are learning our sevens. The teacher will start by saying one, then the next student will say two and so on around the circle, until you get to the multiples of seven, then you need to say “buzz” instead of the number. If a student gets the wrong answer, you can work through it together and continue, or they can be eliminated and sit down. Once the class has mastered the multiples of seven, you can also add “buzz” to any number containing seven, such as 7, 27, and 37. This will increase the students’ concentration and is a great way of learning times tables.

Where Is Ten?

Equipment: Deck of cards

Description: Students play this game in pairs and try to make a ten by turning over combinations of cards that total ten. Remove all picture cards, but keep aces. Aces are worth one. Shuffle the cards and place four rows of five cards face down between two students. Taking turns, students turn over two cards. If the sum is ten, the student takes the cards and plays again. If the sum is less than ten, the student takes a third card. If the sum is greater than ten, the cards are replaced face down and that student’s turn is over. The game is over when no more tens can be made. The student with the most tens wins.

Go Fish

Equipment: A deck of cards

Description: Use a standard deck of cards with tens and picture cards removed. Aces are worth one. Deal five cards to each student, take out one card and set it aside without looking at it. If a student has any two cards that add to 10 (eg: 3 + 7), the student lays the pair on the table face up. Once all students have laid down all their ‘10’ pairs, the first student asks any other student for a card that would complete a ‘10’ pair in their hand. If the other student has the requested card, they must hand it over. The first student may continue asking for cards from the same student or anyone else. If the student doesn’t have the requested card, they say, “Go fish.”  This student then takes the top card from the stack of undealt cards. If a student runs out of cards, they pick up a new one at the beginning of a new turn and continue playing. When all the cards are paired, there will be one card without a pair (the one removed from the deck at the beginning of the game). The student with this card is the winner.