Page in Japanese

Numbers: Jump Up and Be Counted!

By Will Jasprizza

When you teach numbers at primary school it is a great chance to incorporate movement into the lesson - rather than simply count, get your students to actually do something, and count the number of times they do it. Using movement lifts motivation and makes the lesson fun! Here are some of my favourites:

Call out the number as you jump into the air (if you can do a high vertical jump your kids will be well impressed!) The class then jumps and yells out the same number. It is important for the teacher to jump and count first so the students can hear the correct pronunciation. Once you think the students have the hang of it you can try jumping together - instead of pausing between jumps try jumping as soon as you land. This is also a sure way of helping your students get rid of excess energy (ie use it to deliberately tire them out!)

Do an exaggerated bit of deep-breathing with an appropriately karate-like crossing of the forearms and then extend your left hand whilst resting your right hand on your hip. Punch as you count! (Make sure the students aren't standing too close to each other for this one)

Again, stolen from the martial arts - with your feet about 30 centimetres apart, just lift your knee and kick towards the front. Alternate legs. Definitely make sure everyone is spread out!

One of the best ways to quieten a noisy class - it's hard to play up when you're doing a few sets of 12!

Extending fingers
Beginning with balled fists, extend a finger for each number you count. For '11' and '12' first extend all 10 fingers and then one and two digits respectively. For added emphasis thrust your arm forward too! This is great when teaching the Mr Wolf Song!

Rocket Launch
Once your students are fairly competent with the numbers 1 to 12 give them a bit of a challenge - counting backwards - but in the form of Richard's NASA like rocket countdown. Everyone crouches down and holds their hands above their heads like the nosecone of a rocket. As you countdown from 12 you stand up a little higher with each number, and on zero you launch by jumping up in the air! Remember that if your students' voices aren't loud enough the rocket won't have enough energy to take off and you'll have to do the whole thing again! Check out the Rocket Launch song!


This is a cute version of Rocket Launch that we learnt from Debi Davis in Hokkaido. Instead of a nosecone, form the shell of an egg with your hands. Do the countdown and on zero, burst out of the shell and fly away like a cute little bird, flapping your arms for added effect.

Star jumps

Start with arms by your side and legs together - star jump to a position with legs apart and arms held horizontally. Perfect for those cold winter morning lessons.

Reverse star jumps
Start with your arms horizontal and legs together - jump so you end up with legs apart and arms by your side. After doing normal star jumps this one takes a little coordination - that's what makes it fun!

You may have notice that I have described counting to twelve, not just ten. Why? Because if you teach the numbers to twelve you can also teach the time (thank you to Nakata Ritsuko Sensei) . In addition, when you eventually teach the numbers to twenty your students will begin with the 'teens', and not have to struggle with eleven and twelve as the first numbers in the new 'set'.

Have fun at primary school and be genki!

Copyright 2001 Will Jasprizza


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