Twenty – a fun counting game

For ages 6 – 8 years

A strategic counting game for children as young as six – that will also amuse teenagers and adults. It will help your child discover counting patterns and give them a chance to win against older players.

 What do I need?

Your child and another player

 How do I do it?

Two players take turns to count aloud from 1 to 20. Each player can choose to count one, two or three consecutive numbers in their turn. The player who ends up having to say ‘20’ loses. 

So, a game might go like this:

Charlotte: One, two

Harry: Three

Charlotte: Four, five, six

Harry: Seven, eight

Charlotte: Nine, ten, eleven

Harry: Twelve, thirteen, fourteen

Charlotte: Fifteen, sixteen

Harry: Seventeen, eighteen, nineteen!

Charlotte: ‘Drat’ – twenty.

Players have to work out what the strategy is.

Top Tip – Nineteen is the secret, since their opponent has no choice but to say 20. To get to 19 you have to make sure you get to 15. After 15, whatever your opponent says (16 or 16, 17 or 16, 17, 18) you can get to 19 in your next turn. The pattern to win the game is to get to the ‘stepping stones’ of 3, 7, 11, 15 and 19.

Once they have figured that out, you can make a different game by trying different rules:

  • What if you change the target to 25?
  • What if you allow players to count up to four numbers?
  • What if there are three players?

No-one knows your child better than you.  So, choose and/or adapt ideas here to best suit you and your child. Remember it’s the talking and time spent together that matters most.

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