Numbo In Schools

As a part of ensuring that Numbo is the best product I can make it, I've been taking it into local schools. 

Year 3s and 4s

A few weeks ago I played it with year 3/4s (7-9 year olds) and the general feedback was very positive. The children loved the characters and were all able to take part in the game due to the number grid on the reverse creating a level playing field - those that couldn't get the answer by working it out in their heads were able to look it up and still participate. 

I first of all taught a small group of 6 children how to play. I started by showing them the cards and asking what the four attributes - intelligence, strength, agility and charisma meant.

We did a few rounds and I decided that just a run of 3 cards would be sufficient to win the game (if you're not familiar with the rules take a quick look here), else it would take too long. Once I'd explained the rules the children very quickly got the hang of playing Numbo and were away.

We started with the youngest player, then simply moved around the circle in a clock wise direction. So the first player chose a category, called out their times table and then the player to their right had to answer. That continued round the circle until we reached back to the first player - then the person with the highest number won all the cards, got to place a card in their run and had control of the game to choose the next category. 

After the initial group had the hang of playing, the rest of the class joined in. The original six pupils each led a group and taught the others how to play. I remained with a group of my own. There didn't seem to be any confusion with the rules and they were soon challenging each other. 

A lot of kids selected the intelligence category since it has the highest numbers - but that doesn't necessarily mean it has the greatest odds of winning. For example if you had 90 for intelligence there are still 15 cards that could beat you (and one other that could draw). I think the more the game was played some would notice this pattern and would be more discerning about selecting another attribute. 

A Q&A at the end gave an opportunity for the students to ask where they could buy the game and to tell me their favourite characters. I was really pleased to hear the positives from the group. 

Year 7s

Today I played with a year 7 maths class. I started by showing them the Numbo video with the aim to engage their attention, then quickly had them gather, with a small test group to play and the others crowding round to watch. Those watching were each given a card so that they could see what they were going to be playing with, those seated in the sample group got to play a hand. The year 7s picked it up very quickly and were soon in smaller groups battling each other.

After roughly two rounds per group we introduced some additional rules to make the game a little more interesting. Firstly we voted on whether or not to instigate 'hardcore mode'. This version prevents the players from using the numbers grid on the reverse of each card, forcing them to answer the times table from their head. If they answered wrong, they lost their card straight away and it was placed in the middle for the eventual winner of the hand to pick up as their spoils. We also introduced the coin flip. This changes the dynamic - the coin is flipped before each round, if heads then the highest card wins, if tails then the lowest card wins. This forces players to seek out not only the intelligence attribute with its seemingly high numbers. These two rules worked well. Pupils helped each other find the right answer but were also quick to make opponents place their cards in the middle when answering incorrectly. 

General feedback was positive. One student noted the deck reads "Season One" and was quick to work out there would be more. A female pupil said she would be keen to see different themes - not a girls and a boys deck as she didn't think that was right - but to move away from the space theme. The toaster seemed to be a crowd favourite amongst the year 7s. 


So far school visits have been well received. I've explained the game and taught the rules. I've not yet let students read the written instructions and work out how to play - so I wonder if I do need to do that to ensure they make sense to more than just me. I have two more school visits this week and one the week after, so I'm keen to ensure I improve my delivery each time. I also wonder how to bridge the gap between the pupils playing and enjoying the game in class to remembering what it is and perhaps choosing to buy it outside of school. I will ponder how best to move this side forward. I know children's book author's go into schools and are able to make sales, so I think I need to learn from what they do. 

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