Counting and Number Activities

Following are some activities relating to the topics counting and numbers.
The items marked with are the contributions of the Summer 2000 participants.

Contents of this Page
The Number Sense Activity
Mora, A Finger Game
Quipu Activity

Math Activity: The Number Sense


In this activity, we are trying to help the students appreciate their ability to count. Number sense is not counting , but the ability to recognize a change in a small collection of things. People can usually identify up to four objects without having to count each one individually. Beyond four, most people will have to rely on counting.

To demonstrate this, show students an increasing number of objects that are alike either on sheets of paper or on an overhead projector.

Number sense is something we are born with, but we get to learn how to count.1

1Dantzig, Tobias. Number: The Language of Science, The Macmillan Company, New York, 1930, p. 4.

Contributed by Bruce White


Dantzig, Tobias. Number: The Language of Science, The Macmillan Company, New York, 1930,

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Math Activity: Morra, A Finger Game


Morra is a game that involves counting that has been played since ancient Egyptian times. It is still played throughout different parts of the world, especially in Europe and Northern Africa.

The game is very simple and can be played by two or more players, but it is usually played by two. The players face each other, each holding up a closed fist. At a given signal, they both hold up as many fingers as they wish and at the same time announce a number from one to ten. If both hands are used, the number can range from one to twenty. A player scores a point if the number (s)he calls out is the total number of fingers shown by all players.

This game can be used in class to help sharpen the studentsí adding, observation, and reaction skills.

Contributed by Bruce White


Infrah, Georges. From One to Zero, A Universal History of Numbers, Viking Penguin, Inc., New York, 1985, pp. 67-68.

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MATERIALS (per student) :

  • 24" of heavy cord or twine
  • 3 - 24" pieces of thinner string
  • an assortment of yarn in various colors (for the knots)
  • 1 pair of scissors
CONSTRUCTION ( this will take 2 students) :
  • have one student hold the heavy cord horizontally by its ends
  • student 2 folds the thinner string in half
  • drape it over the cord
  • take the loose ends and pass them through the loop created by the folding
  • tighten the string on the cord
  • trade jobs and repeat the above steps
  • each student knots 3 string half using the colored yarn
  • teachers can provide the numbers on the board or you can improvise by providing student with cups of popcorn, paper clips, or other items to count

Contributed by Steven Tuck


Stroul, Mary and Susan Scheck. Mayas - Aztecs - Incas, Cooperative Learning Activities, Scholastic Professional Books, 1994.

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Grade Level:
Middle School

To test the students ability to add, subtract, multiply, and divide quickly and accurately.


  1. Pack of krypto cards (the teacher may have the students make their own deck of cards. They can do this by taking 3"x5" index cards and having the students write the numbers:
    • 1-4, five times
    • 5-8, 3 times
    • 9-11, 2 times
    • 12-15, 1 time,
      and for higher level students add
    • 16-20, 1 time.)
  2. A sheet of paper and pencil for each participant, and one to keep score for each group.
  3. Three to five students per group and 1 set of krypto cards per group.

After the students have got into groups, have one student lay 5 cards face up in a row so all the students can see them. The first four are the numbers you are working with, and the fifth card is the anwser the participants are trying to come up with. The participants of the game may add, subtract, multiply, or divide any which way her or she can to make the first four cards equal the fifth card. They may put the numbers in any order that works. The first to come up with problem correctly anwsering the fifth card is the point. They may play to a certain number, or for a certain time period.

Contributed by Jennifer Goodwin

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