This is a quick energiser activity that can be used in groups of all sizes and with lots of different variations.
Step by Step Instructions
- Form into small groups of two (or three) people, facing one another.
- Instruct each person to shake one of their fists up and down at the same time as they chant “ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR” together.
- On “…FOUR,” everyone extends any number of fingers from none to five on one hand.
- Group aims to achieve exactly seven (or eleven) extended fingers.
- No talking is permitted between the players at any time.
- Challenge each group to achieve the sum of seven (or eleven) as often as possible within 60 seconds.
How to Play
Break into groups of two people, facing each other. Each person extends one of their hands (it doesn’t matter which one) in a clenched fist about tummy height in front of the others.
Ask your groups to shake their fists up and down at the same time as they chant “ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR” together, where on “…FOUR,” everyone extends any number of fingers from none to five (thumbs count as fingers here.) It’s critical that everyone extends their fingers simultaneously, without a lag.
Announce that the aim is for the group to achieve exactly seven extended fingers. The rub, of course, is that no talking is permitted between the players at any time.
You simply move from one round of “…ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR,” extend and count the fingers (bother, sixteen,) straight into the next round, and so on.
Invite each group to tally the number of times they can achieve seven fingers within 60 seconds.
No props are needed
Practical Leadership Tips
It never ceases to amaze me how often screams of delight will issue forth from a group when the magic eleven appears. Imagine if they solved something important!
Beware introducing this exercise to young students, say in grades two to four. These kids can often manage the basic sums, but it’s their propensity to count with their fingers that spoils the fun.
As each small group will progress at their own pace, it’s often easier to write the next number (you want them to produce) on a whiteboard or somewhere obvious to direct the energies of the mathematically inclined.
- Trio: Vary the number of people in each small group. If there are three people in the small group, aim to produce 11 fingers.
- Both Hands: Vary the number of hands each person can use, so each person can then use two hands, permitting up to ten fingers to be extended, ask each group to achieve a sum of 23.
- New Numbers: Vary the number a group aims to achieve. Start with eleven, then seven, then twelve, etc.
- New Round, New Number: With each new round, an individual is required to extend a different number of fingers, to prevent the sneaky practice of knowing what to expect on each other’s hands, thereby manipulating a result.
Useful Framing Ideas
Mention mathematics and most people will tell you that they’re no good at it, or that they forgot most of it when they left school. And while very few of us are rocket scientists, most of us are comfortable when it comes to adding simple numbers together. If this describes your mathematical prowess, then you have everything you need for this next exercise…
I learned this next exercise from a class of second-graders. I had as much fun watching these little guys play as they did play it, because of their propensity to use their fingers to count the numbers. Let’s see if this is the way you count too…
Reflection Tips & Strategies
Here are some questions you could use to process your group’s experience after playing this fun energizer game:
- What did you think when you realized that this game involved mathematics? Was this a good or bad thing?
- How did your group respond when you achieved the desired sum? Did this take a long time?
- What else did you notice during the game?
- What impact do you think the little voice in our head has on our life? Please explain how you got to that conclusion.
- Partner activity
- Stimulates energy
- Focus on mathematics