Distribute one Numbers Game sheet to each person (download from Resources tab.)
Challenge each person to touch every number printed on the page in order from 1 to 60 as fast as they can.
Invite each person to use a stopwatch to record how long it takes them to complete the task.
When ready, announce “GO.”
Repeat the task two or more times with a view to continuous improvement and/or present a new challenge from the Variations tab.
Process as required.
How To Play Narrative
This is one of those it-looks-easier-than-it-is type of exercises.
In advance, you need to write the numbers 1 to 60 randomly in any location on a single sheet of paper. Or, to save time, download the sample from the Resources tab (there are two versions with different levels of difficulty.)
You’ll need one copy for each person you will invite to play.
With your group seated, distribute one of these sheets to every person. You could ask everyone to position their sheet with the numbers facing down but I don’t think it makes much difference either way. If you like to build the suspense, go ahead and keep the numbers secret until you’re ready to start.
Announce that each person’s task is to touch every number on the sheet in order from 1 through to 60 as quickly as possible. That is to say, the first number they search for and then touch is 1, and then they search for 2 and touch it, etc.
Clearly, as a timed event, you want to involve some form of timing instrument. Either show the display of a large stopwatch in full view of your group or invite each person to manage their own, eg stopwatch feature on their smartphone.
When ready, announce “GO” and ask your group to their spot and tap process.
In the context of continuous improvement, you and your group will want to have a second attempt hoping to improve on their time. Allow for two or more rounds as you require and then facilitate a discussion that invites your group to reflect on what happened.
Or, present one or more different ways of tackling the problem per those described in the Variations tab.
Either way, be sure to review the sample questions in the Reflection Tips tab for more conversation starters.
Practical Leadership Tips
You’re right, an honour system does apply throughout this exercise, ie you must trust that participants are actually progressing in the correct numerical sequence and not skipping any numbers and are actually tapping them.
You could integrate the Numbers Game as part of a well-designed SEL program to develop your group’s ability to manage their emotions, thoughts and behaviours effectively in different situations and to achieve goals.
Specifically, this activity offers ample opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
You can learn more about SEL and how it can support character education here.
Health & Wellness Programming
There is no specific health & wellness perspective to this activity other than promoting the benefits to one’s well-being of engaging in a stimulating cognitive challenge.
In a small way, you could argue that the focus and effort required to identify the full sequence of numbers may speak to the benefits of being resilient because it is very easy to give up when you can’t find a particular number. This is especially true when this obstacle is encountered many times. You could frame this experience as an opportunity to introduce strategies that calm and re-focus one’s energies, rather than get trapped into thinking that there is something wrong.
If you can think of more explicit ways in which the Numbers Game could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
Paired Challenge: For small groups of 3 to 4 people and invite two people at a time to complete the task as quickly as possible. Permit up to three attempts to record the fastest possible time.
Small-Group Challenge: First, introduce the Individual and then Paired challenges. Now, allow every member of each small team to be actively be involved in solving the problem, ie any person can spot and/or touch a number. Be sure to allow ample time to discuss the impact on performance, starting with individual attempts through to the small teams.
Open the Virtual Adaptation tab to learn how to present this activity online.
Visit this page (padlet.com/playmeo/numbersgame1) to access a simple digital Numbers Game sheet. If all participants are on their own (remote location,) you are limited to engaging in the original (one person) challenge. However, if it is possible for two or more people to share a screen, you can also present the paired and possible small team variations.
To ramp up the challenge, direct your group to this page (padlet.com/playmeo/numbersgame2) to engage them in a more difficult version of the numbers game.
Useful Framing Ideas
Continuous improvement may be a familiar term to you because it’s been around a while. Even if you have not heard it before, what does it mean? [ invite contributions from your group… ] In this next exercise, we plan to explore what continuous improvement looks like and the strategies we can use to achieve it…
Competition is nothing if it’s not about being the best or the fastest at something. Prepare yourself to get competitive in this next challenge, but only with yourself in the beginning…
Have you ever heard the saying “too many cooks spoil the broth?” It’s basically saying that while more heads often contribute to better decisions and higher levels of performance, at some point, the number of heads reaches a tipping point when more means less. A concept we may see unfold in our next problem-solving exercise…
Reflection Tips & Strategies
Coupled with one or more reflection strategies, here are some sample questions you could use to process your group’s experience after playing this intriguing initiative:
What did you notice as you endeavoured to spot every number in order?
What strategies did you employ? Did they work?
Over the course of several attempts, did your time improve? Why?
What does this exercise teach us about learning new skills?
In the case you presented a sequence of timed events for individual > pairs > small teams:
What do the series of recorded times mean?
What different strategies did you use (if any) when more people were involved? Did they work? Why or why not?
Specifically, how did you specialise your group’s labour?
What might our results say about teamwork?
The inspiration for the Numbers Game was sourced from Newstrom & Scannell in Games Trainers Play (1980.)