1. Overview

“Hot Potato” practices mental counting from 1 to 50 while also increasing the speed with which your child can recite numbers in a sequence.

Catch the ball and count!
“Catch the ball and say the next number!”
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2. Materials

Ball, potato, orange, or any other small object you can throw back and forth

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3. Activity

Video: Let’s play Hot Potato!

This game works best with three or more players. Arrange the players in a circle. Start by playing a song. The first person with a ball says “One” and then throws the ball to the second person. The second person says “Two” and throws it to the third person who says “Three,” and so on.

Player 1: One! [Throws ball to Player 2]
Player 2: Two! [Throws ball to Player 3]
Player 3: Three! [Throws ball to Player 1]
Player 1: Four! [Throws ball to Player 2]

Keep throwing the ball while counting in order. If someone says the wrong number, then they have to keep holding the ball until they say the correct number.

Stop the music randomly. When the music stops, the person holding the ball is out. The last person still playing is the winner.

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4. Extensions

Once your child has mastered the basic game, try some of these variations to increase the difficulty:

  • Start counting from 25, 30, or any other number instead of 1.
  • Skip count. Start from 5 and then the next person says 10, and so on.
  • Don’t throw the ball in a strict order. Instead, throw it to any random player across from you or beside you.
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