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Numerous games to get you started

Try these simple number games, which use available resources and are adaptable to any language. They are gently progressive and you can introduce more vocabulary as your pupils gain ground:

* Piggie in the middle. The children sit in a circle of chairs. One child is the Piggie. They count until Piggie shouts "Stop!", then all change places and try to find a seat. The child left standing in the middle becomes the Piggie.

* Mexican wave. Perform the wave around the group, each child, as they rise up, repeating one of a sequence of several numbers. Give a clap to change direction.

* Circles. Number the children around the circle, using numbers to six or eight: i) Children jump into the middle, as you call their numbers. Once all are in the middle, repeat the process, the children jumping back out.

ii) Call a number and throw up a ball. The child with that number must catch the ball before it bounces. If successful they take over the role of the teacher.

* Touch the bean-bag. The children stand in two numbered teams facing each other with a bean-bag on the floor in the middle. When a number is called, the first child with that number to touch the bag wins a point.

* Toy throwing. Count and throw a soft toy or bean-bag to a child, who says the next number in the sequence, then throws the toy back to you: continue round the group. Variation: children count and throw to the next child in the group.

* Odds or evens. Call out numbers and get the girls to jump up for even numbers and boys jump up for odd numbers.

* Oui! ou Non! Hide a number card behind your back and then get the class to ask you what it is, chorusing the question "C'est combien?". You say the number and the class decide if you are telling the truth. If the children guess correctly then the class gains a point. As a variation on the game, volunteers could change places with the teacher.

* Show me. Provide the children with number fans or digit cards. You call a number for them to select and keep concealed, for example, "Montrez-moi onze", then all show them at the same moment.

* Bounce the ball. A child throws a ball to the next child and calls a number. That child must bounce the ball the correct number of times.

Variation: a child claps a few times. The child who correctly counts the number of claps takes the next turn.

* Dice throwing. Throw a large foam dice. The child who catches it says the number thrown, then tosses it to another child. Progress to mental maths: the child rolls the dice twice, to make a sum, for example 6+4, then throws the dice to the child who gives the correct answer. Boys love this.

* Bring me. Groups compete to win points by bringing you items, for example "Apportez-moi quatre crayons".

* By numbers. Number the children and have them respond to instructions by numbers, such as "Les numeros six, levez la main!"

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