In this exercise you’ll start with this one person and when you’ve completed this round you move on to somebody new. But we’ll actually face-off, we’ll see each other with our legs slightly apart, looking at each other and our hands by our sides. We place our hands behind our back on the word ‘Set’.
So anyone can say ‘Set’. So it’s like ‘Set!’ and place your hands, clench your fists behind you. And while you’re doing this, because I can’t see it, you’re actually extending a certain number of fingers on both hands.
Okay? I don’t know it, so it’s either… you can use zero now, so it could be nothing or anything up to ten.
As I’ve said ‘Set’, the other person says ‘Go’, and that is the trigger for each of us to place both of our hands in front of us with the fingers showing. We then simply add all fingers. First one to give the correct sum wins.
Got the idea? Alright. So set!
Seven. Alright, so the total is seven fingers. Got the idea? Now we have played that, I then move on and find a new person and do exactly the same thing. One of you says ‘Set’, the other one says ‘Go’, bang! Go!
(And what’s the point?)
It’s whatever comes up. You’ve got to guess the number. It’s going to be different every time.
(people playing Your Add, inquiring)
(How do we move on?)
Once you’ve won, you go find a new partner.
(people playing Your Add)
And naturally there’s all sorts of variations. It’s called Your Add but you could do it that you’ve got three or four people in the group. You could just use one hand.
You’ve also got the ability to subtract. So it might be that one person is the subtracter, and so you take one from another.
You can also have the multiplier as well. So it might be two people, add that, multiply it by that person’s hand, another version to it too.
How To Play Narrative
Invite everyone to find a willing partner, and face them about a metre (3′) or more apart.
To initiate a start to the game, one of the pair calls out “SET.”
At this juncture, each person places their hands behind their backs, and extends a certain number of fingers (that only they will know) on both hands. Options vary between zero (both hands are clenched) to ten (all fingers and thumbs are extended.)
Next, when the second person is ready, they will call “GO.”
At this point, each partner thrusts both of their hands forward with the chosen number of fingers extended. With all four hands visible, the first person to guess the total number of all extended fingers (for both players) is the champion.
Play several rounds, and/or swap partners.
Practical Leadership Tips
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. Although it is fun to watch this occur.
Observe the inevitable sighs that will follow your briefing when people catch on that the activity involves mathematics. Expect howls of ‘I’m not good at maths’ and ‘I can’t add up in my head’ types of comments. Acknowledge their concern, and press on. In my experience, most people play down their abilities much worse than they really are.
Mix & Mingle: Invite your group to simply mingle about a space, and once someone spies a willing partner, they face-off with them. This pair will engage in one or more rounds, and at some point, move on to find a new rival, or more truthfully, someone less adept at mathematics!
More Hands: Involve three or four players, each using one or two hands.
Subtractor: The group calculates the sum of all the fingers other than those extended by the designated ‘subtracter’ person, whose fingers you subtract from the sum of everyone else’s fingers.
Multiplier: As above variation, designate one person as the ‘multiplier,’ where you multiply their number of extended fingers with the sum of everyone else’s fingers.
Active Sums: Take a look at Around The World for a brilliant active variation of this game.
Open the Virtual Adaptation tab to learn how to present this activity online.
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Quick, small group energiser with lots of variations.
Divide your group (randomly, if possible) into smaller groups of two people (pairs) to play this game in their own private ‘room.’ Instruct them to play for up to 1 minute before you/they return to the large group.
As above with small groups of 3 to 4 people.
Use a (free) screen sharing software (such as Whiteboardfox) as the canvas for mathematical equations. Instruct your group to learn how to write on the asynchronous canvas and share the URL of the group screen. Then, divide your group into small teams of 3 or 4 people to play. Taking turns, one person writes an equation (which can be seen by the others in their room) and the first person to respond with the correct solution, wins.
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 pretty 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…
Have you ever watched young children count with their fingers? You know, that innocent point at the objects as you count them out loud technique. Well, try to suppress the urge to count in this manner with this next exercise, otherwise, you’ll get into all sorts of strife…
Quick & Simple ‘Team-Building’ Session
What You Need: 10+ people, 30 mins
Props: set of Alphabet Equation cards (Print+Play), hula-hoop, stopwatch