Family Resources on Throw (Numbers)!

Project and Purpose

Students play a game to practice both their basic math skills and using their working memory.

Essential Questions

Why should we build our working memory skills?

If this lesson was used in the classroom: Students practiced using their working memory. In class students played a game called “Throw Numbers!” which students took turns using basic math to practice arranging numbers.

Getting Ready for the Conversation

Working memory is a higher order thinking skill involving the ability to manipulate short-term memories. Working memory is different from short-term memory in that short-term memory is the ability to remember something but not actually manipulate the information.

Conversation Starters and Practice at Home

The first three items are for follow-up after participating in class activities.

Explain how you played “Throw Numbers!” in class.

Did you think it was easy? Why or why not?

Do you think practice would make it easier to complete the task? Why or why not?

Take several small number puzzles (such as sudoku puzzles) and time each as your child does them. Did the puzzles become easier to solve as you did more? Describe why you think this happened. What classes could this help you improve? Describe why.

School to Home Resources on Throw (Numbers)!


  • Open space


1. Discuss working memory with the group: working memory is the ability to hold things in your mind and rearrange those things to create understanding. Remind them that short term memory is retrieval, being able to remember things as they were. Working memory is retrieving the image or information and then manipulating it in your head.
2. The teacher will facilitate this game. This will require the teacher to walk around the room, listen to the groups, give clues, and check their math.
3. Form small circles of four or five people. Have each person think of a number between one and 10. Behind their backs, each person should extend that number of fingers.
4. When the leader (teacher) calls, “Throw!” each group member will “throw their hands” by putting their hands with extended fingers into the center of their small circles.
5. Give everyone in the small circle 10 seconds to look at all the finger-numbers in the circle.
6. Tell group members to put their hands behind their backs.
7. Challenge the members of the group to remember all the finger-numbers that were thrown as well as the person who “threw” each finger-number.
8. Without anybody in the group speaking or showing their finger-numbers again, have one person in the group arrange the members in numerical order, lowest to highest or highest to lowest.
9. Have one group member step into the middle of the circle. Their job is to point to one person and add (a number) to that person’s finger-number. The middle person swaps places with the person they pointed to and that person repeats the point-add-swap process.
10. When everyone has had a chance to point-add-swap, create new groups and have members prepare by thinking of a number and creating “finger-numbers.”
11. Have the group throw their finger-numbers into the center of their small circles, and after 10 seconds have them pull their hands behind their backs.
12. This time, call two names in each group and have the other members of the group use their memory to add the two numbers.
13. Repeat with the operations of subtraction, multiplication, and division.
14. Do the same game multiple times including in full group.


Discuss the activity using the following questions:

  • What was easy about this game? What was challenging? Why?
  • What strategies did you use to help you remember the numbers?
  • Sometimes in school, at work, or in other areas, you are required to demonstrate an ability to recall facts and information. How will this exercise help you do that?
  • Why is this skill important in school? Why is this skill important to certain jobs? When and why would you need to use this skill?
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