SAIL: Structured Activities in Intelligent Learning

Richard R. Skemp

March 10, 1919 – June 22, 1995

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Number targets [Num 2.8/1]

A game for as many children as can sit so that they can all see the chart right way up; minimum 3. It follows on from 'Tens and ones chart' (Num 2.7/3 in SAIL Volume 1). Its purpose is to link the spoken number words, just learned, with the corresponding written numerals.


  • Target cards.*
  • Tens and ones chart.*
  • Pencil and headed paper for each child.
  • Base 10 material, tens and ones.**

* Provided in the SAIL photomasters, but here reproduced following Variation. See also Note (iii), following.

** This game should be played with a variety of base ten material such as milk straws or popsicle sticks in ones and bundles of ten; multibase material in base ten.

What they do

1. The target cards are shuffled and put face down.

2. In turn, each child takes the top card from the pile. He looks at this, but does not let the others see it.

3. Before play begins, 2 tens are put onto the chart. (This is to start the game at 20.)

4. The objective of each player is to have on the chart his target number of tens and ones.

5. Each player in turn may put in or take out a ten or a one.

6. Having done this, he writes on his paper the corresponding numerals and speaks them aloud in two ways. For example:

7. In the above example, if a player holding a 47 target card had the next turn, he would win by putting down one more one. He would then show his target card to confirm that he had achieved his target.

8. Since players do not know each others' targets, they may unknowingly achieve someone else's target for them. In this case the lucky player may immediately reveal his target card, whether it is his turn next or not, saying, "Thank you. You've made my number."

9. When a player has achieved a target, he then takes a new target card from the top of the pile, and play continues.

10. The winner is the player who finishes with the most target cards.

Notes (i) If one side of the tray is empty, a corresponding zero must be written and spoken; e.g.,

(ii) Players are only required to write the numbers they themselves make. It would be good practice for them to write every number, but we have found that children consider this to be cumbersome.

(iii) Several sets of target cards should be prepared in which the numbers are reasonably close together, both the tens and the ones. If they are too far apart, the game may never end.

Variation It makes the game more interesting if, at step 5, a player is allowed two moves. For example, he may put 2 tens, or put 2 ones, or put 1 ten and take 1 one, etc. This may also be used if no one is able to reach his target.

© Richard R. Skemp, 1993, 1994. SAIL through Mathematics, Volume 1, Volume 2.