Get into groups of ... three!

A math game for active kids!


Kids love physical activity. Certainly my four-year-old finds it almost impossible to stand still. Unless he's ill, he can't go anywhere at a walking pace. Here's a game that will help kindergarten kids show that they understand numbers, while engaging them in a physical activity. It works best in groups of more than fifteen.

Bring the kids to a large open area. Make sure they won't skin their knees if they fall down - some four-year-olds don't know how to show restraint! 

The rules of the game are simple, but will need to be carefully explained to kindergarten kids. Here they are :

  • The teacher calls a number, for example "three"
  • The children must form groups of that number, for example, groups of three children.
  • The teacher then checks each group, counting them to make sure the number is correct. (This also allows the kids to wind down a little between each call)
  • When every group is counted, the teacher calls another number.

This can work for older kids too. Instead of calling numbers, you could call arithmetic sums. "Nine minus Seven!", "Four plus Negative One!" "54 Divided by Nine!"

A nice variation for older kids goes like this :

  • Each child is given a piece of paper, representing a denomination of money. You can print off some examples here.
  • The teacher calls out amounts of money, say "Two dollars and 30 cents!"
  • The kids quickly form groups which add up to the right amount of money.

Any of these work as a good icebreaker game for adults too!

Yours, Dr Mike.

In fact, the same game makes a good ice-breaker for adults too, although don't expect adults to