The Lowest Number Game

This is a game I read about many years ago in Games magazine – it was one of their monthly contests, but I’ve always done this with my students, sometimes even the whole school! Here’s how the game works:

The winner is the person who picks the lowest counting number that no one else picks.

So, the counting numbers are 1, 2, 3, …. If a student picks “1” and no one else does, they win! But if they pick 1 and so does someone else, they do not win. Then we look to 2. If just one student picks 2, they are the winner, and if several students pick 2, then we move to 3, and so on. For example, if this was the results from a class of 12 students: 1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 3, 4, 4, 5, 7, 8, 8, then the student who picked “3” would be the winner.

I would usually have the students write their name and number on a slip of paper and turn it in. Then we write the numbers on the board and see who the winner is. We can do this now through Zoom! Have students private message you their number, then you can tally the results and declare a winner. You can do this live with a group of students, or if you have several groups, collect all the student guesses and give the results the next day.

It’s very interesting to see what students pick and why. It is a very psychological game, and after playing a few times, students start to get the hang of it. I also tend to find that if we play the game three or four times, one student will win several times. I wonder what that student sees or is sensing about their classmate!

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