Number one for English language teachers

Energizers: Crazy counts

Level: Pre-intermediate, Intermediate, Upper intermediate, Advanced Type: Extra

Here's a super-simple way to review numbers. It works nicely at the beginning of class, even while students are entering the classroom.


  • Ask students to count. Each student says one number aloud, the next student continuing: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5... and so on.
  • Arrange students in a line, or in a way so that each student knows who to follow.
  • Encourage students to count as fast as they can (because in real life comprehension of numbers needs to be fairly immediate).
  • Explain that this is easy. But each time we count, the task will get more challenging.
  • Round 2: On the board write 'Even Numbers: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10... ' Have students continue the counting.
  • Round 3: Write 'Odd Numbers: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9...' Students continue the counting.
  • Other Rounds (it's simple to create your own too):

    - Counting down: 50, 49, 48, 47, 46, 45...
    - Even numbers counting down: 100, 98, 96, 94...
    - Odd numbers counting down: 99, 97, 95, 93...
    - Multiples of 4: 4, 8, 12, 16, 20...
    - Multiples of 2.5: 2.5, 5.0, 7.5, 10...
    - Years counting down by threes: 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010...

Tip: As soon as interests starts to flag, end the activity. You can do new crazy counts another day.

And from Ryan Campbell: Another variation on the crazy counts warmer

Once they've reached a target number, have the students substitute one number for a word or a very short phrase. The students have to remember not to say this number again. E.g.: one, two , three, four, banana, six, etc. At first this is easy but as more and more numbers get changed it becomes much harder and much funnier. You can introduce penalties for students who get it wrong. It can also be a way of recycling any vocabulary you want reviewed or even building up short dialogues or focusing on a particular grammar point e.g.: irregular verbs with students substituting a number with an irregular verb. With younger kids, it is very amusing to substitute nonsense words like Ugachaka or Oogookachew. You can also substitute an action for a number which leads you into the field of TPR.

These variations aside, it's very good just for practising numbers as being forced to think of not only what number is not there but which word is in its place makes it much more challenging and improves recall hugely. Some final variations (there are many) would be to have the new word, action or whatever for that number and multiples of that number, eg: if five is banana then so is ten and 15 and so on. Sometimes this will give you a double number like 21 (divisible by 3 and 7) so you may have to say two words. Another way would be to have the students doing the warmer in a circle trying to eliminate each other. They could say two numbers at one time to reverse the direction of the counts or three numbers at one time to carry on in the same direction but skipping one, eg: Four, banana reverses direction back the way the count came, or four, banana, six would carry on in the same direction but skip the next student in the circle.

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