Sit your group down and organise them into an inward facing semi-circle facing you. You will then place a shoestring on the ground and layout a shape, your group then have to guess which number it represents between one and ten.
Once you’ve laid the shoestring on the ground, put your hands on your thighs then ask the group, ‘what number is this?’ The group will then review the shape you’ve created and try to guess what number it represents. Give the group a couple of guesses and then tell them the answer.
The catch is you must show the ‘number’ with your fingers, which are placed on your thighs. For example, if the number is five, you have only five fingers out. If it’s one then you have one finger on your thighs, with the others folded.
When organising a shape with the shoestring, you should try to make it fun and use some theatrics (by doing this, you are distracting them as they think this links to the number – in reality, the shape makes no difference to the number).
After the initial guesses from the group, prepare another shape with the shoestring on the floor and follow the same process. If your group doesn’t catch on straight away, explain to them, that it is not a trick and the number is right in front of them (literally). You can also over emphasise the finger placement on your thigh in hope they catch on.
Key learning lesson
Sometimes in life the solution to a problem is right in front of us, but due to distractions we don’t see it and then get frustrated. By simplifying how solve problems we succeed quicker. In this exercise, the shoestring is the distraction. When we see the shoestring, we focus on this so much that we block out all other useful information.
If you don’t have a shoestring, use anything else that could potentially distract the group, here are a few suggestions: pens, matchsticks, ropes etc.