FINGERS is a fun and exciting, and sometimes slightly noisy mental maths game to begin a maths lesson with.
The objective of the activity is to reinforce times tables facts from the 0’s through the 10’s. The activity can be differentiated in a couple of ways as well.
Children will work together in pairs during this activity, which can either be teacher-led to control the pace or pair-led to allow groups to work at their own pace. Each student in the pair will put out a specific number of fingers between zero and ten. It is important to emphasize that the pairs put their fingers out at the same time. The students will then calculate the times table figure in their heads. For example, if student A puts five fingers out and student B puts eight fingers out, the times table fact would be 5 times 8. Whichever student says the correct answer the fastest, gets a letter. The students are racing to be the first ones to spell the word “FINGERS”. So if student A answers “40”, he or she would get the letter F. Students keep track of their words on scrap paper or personal whiteboards.
To make the game longer, have the students spell out the words “SUPER FINGERS”.
Students can be paired up by ability to allow for slight differentiation in terms of they might only put out fingers between 0 and 5. If students get to be really fast in this game, take out the easy numbers of 0, 1, 2, 5, and 10. Students then have to think more carefully about the number of fingers they put out as well as working on the harder times tables.
My Year 5 students also enjoy playing “Around the World Super Fingers”. This fast-paced mental math warm-up becomes more exciting when the children are racing to put work on their times tables. The goal changes, as the students aim to be the first person to travel around the classroom rather than to spell the word “FINGERS”.
Angela Palalagi has also suggested playing this game to review addition skills, i.e. if one child holds up five fingers and the other holds up 8 fingers, they have to shout ’13’ first to win the round.