"Don't Get the Red Dot!"

Sunday, October 26, 2014

At this point in the school year, I always love introducing math games as part of our comprehensive math program in our classroom! Respecting the fact that developing a classroom community takes time, patience, routine-building and established expectations, I wanted to share one of my favourite math games from last year that was a student "favourite" and one that promoted strong skills when acquiring early number concepts!

We have yet to introduce this math game to our students in our classroom this year, but look forward to seeing them build upon their numeracy skills and acquire new strategies for being the incredible mathematicians that they are in the coming weeks.  

The title itself says it all: "Don't get the RED dot!"

For students to build upon their subitizing (the ability to recognize the number of objects at a glance, without having to count all the objects), one-to-one correspondence (each object being counted must be given one count and only one count. The number word spoken and the object counted must match up), and hierarchical inclusion (numbers build by exactly one each time and nest within each other by this amount. This relationship means that the child mentally includes one in two, two in three, three in four, and so on) skills as early mathematicians in a fun and engaging way!

- Each student is given a ten-frame board to play on. Counters can include any type of open-ended material/loose part (e.g. corks, coloured counters, marker caps, gems, etc). 
- Create number cards 1-10 and dot cards also 1-10 on blank playing cards
- Include one card with a red dot

 How to play:
- Each player takes a turn picking a card, naming the number (e.g. by recognizing the numeral and/or counting the dots) and then everyone showing what that number looks like on their ten-frame board
- Continue taking turns and showing each number on students'  ten-frame boards until someone picks the red dot card! This means the game is over! The object of the game is to not get the red dot! 

Encourage students to compose and decompose numbers to 10 by adding and taking away counters as the numbers change.

Here is one of our previous SK students explaining how the game works with a few twists:

This is an incredibly fun game and one that capitalizes on students' prior knowledge around numbers and build upon their understanding of those important early number concepts! 
Enjoy and remember...don't get the red dot!!

Here is an incredible reference sheet that explains the Early Number Concepts created by the York Region District School Board. I refer to this chart daily:


  1. What a fun and engaging way to work on early number concepts. This simple game addresses a number of big ideas (as you have indicated), as well as learning to use a tool (10 frame) to help build understanding. Can't wait to share this idea with other classrooms I visit. Cheers!

    1. Thanks for your kind words and lovely comment Heather! :)
      Lucky to have you as a friend and inspiring colleague!

  2. Hi I like the game but I am wondering what happens when the 10 frame gets filled up - do you start subtracting? Also what if the players turn up a 7 say and then the next player turns up a 5? Thanks,

    1. Hi Val,
      Sorry for the delay in my response. I thought I had replied to your question. Once the ten frame fills up, students have to think about how to decompose the number to create the next number (a great introduction to subtraction if you will). In the event where a player turns up a 7, all players show the number 7 on there ten frame boards. If the next player turns up a 5, then I often ask, "what do we need to do to make 5?" "Do we need to add more pegs or take some away?" "How do you know?". Hope that answers your question!

  3. Hi,
    How can I print the TDSB document without joining Scribd?
    Can you email me that document? Your blog is amazing!

    1. Hi there,
      Sorry for the delay in responding to your message. I'd be happy to send you the document if you provide me with your name and email.
      Thanks for your kind words! :)

  4. Just want to say again thank you to Ms. Schmidt's class for developing this math game and for articulating so clearly how to play the game. I work with a lot of FDK teachers in my role and am continue to share your game with other FDK classrooms so they too can experience the fun in thinking and learning math:0)
    Mrs. Jelley


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