What I learnt from Bingo

numeracy leaders teachers Feb 23, 2023

In January my husband and children packed our bags and headed on a lovely holiday to Queensland. On the first day we drove past the local bowls club and my ‘Maths Eye’ was drawn to a sign stating:

 “Bingo 7pm this Thursday night, all welcome”.

I was very excited and suggested to everyone that Bingo would be a great family night out!

I ignored the ‘here we go again’ sideways glance my husband and 14 year old exchanged and went on to try to explain to Mr 3 the game of Bingo- at least he seemed excited!

When Thursday night came around we headed to the bowls club. I had talked up how ‘fun’ this would be, so the pressure was on!

We walked in and the room was packed with people of all ages!

There was a ‘Bingo Buzz’ in the air.


We bought our books and our textas, and sat and waited for the fun to begin!

The first game started.

I was helping Mr 3 and my husband was helping Miss 6. The other two girls had their own books.

The wind was very quickly taken out of my sails because I really struggled to keep up as they read the numbers.

I looked around the table and no one else seemed to be struggling, Miss 6 was finding numbers faster than me! I was stressed and anxious… the opposite feelings to those I was hoping for on this fun family night!

At this point I had an identity crisis (all while trying to listen and find numbers on the bingo card)- “I am terrible at Bingo, this is embarrassing, I work with numbers all the time, I should be good at Bingo!”

We made it to the end of the first game, and I looked over at the others and said:

“They read them really fast…how do you find the numbers so quickly?”

Miss 11 said ”mum you just look down… if it’s an eighties number it will be in the eighties column”

Mind Blown! I had been thinking that the numbers were randomly placed on the sheet and I just had to search all over the sheet to locate them.

Miss 14 then said: “yer, they are in the columns but just in a different order”

Again, Mind Blown!

I didn’t realise that every person had every number on their sheet, they were just in a different order in each column. I thought each person had only a selection of numbers.

Those two tips changed my whole approach to Bingo for the rest of the night.

In the next game I was just as fast as everyone else! And the evening lived up to the family fun I had envisaged!

Looking back on this experience, you won’t be surprised to know, it made me think of students in our maths class.

In a lesson there are those who just 'see’ the strategies or the easy way to approach the task. Then there are others who are paddling as fast as they can to keep up. Often these students are not worse at the maths, they have just not seen the ‘easier’ route.


That was me in Bingo.

I hadn’t noticed that the numbers were in columns, so it made everything harder. On top of that, I had an emotional response to noticing that I was not keeping up. My self-talk became negative and I stopped enjoying the game. This made me less engaged and suddenly a vicious cycle began. If this continued, pretty soon I would be ‘pretending’ to need to go to the bathroom!

So, what can we learn from this (apart from how to improve our Bingo game).

I think the big takeaway is…

Encourage your students to share their strategies and tips whenever they approach a task. Most likely there are several students who through hearing a simple tip from their peers, will be on track and quickly feeling good about themselves as mathematicians again!

P.S: Apologies to the teachers of my children who now say “quack, quack” every time they hear the number ‘22’…it’s a Bingo ‘thing’!

Want to learn more from Dr Ange Rogers? Click here to find out about her 'Quality Place Value Assessment in Years 3-6 Mini Course'

Ooh! Tell me more!

Enter your details below to receive weekly blog updates from Dr Ange!