Please May I Have

Years 2 - 6

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This simple game not only provides opportunity to practise place value skills, but also reinforces the use of good manners when asking for something. It is a calculator game for two in which they give digits to each other based on place value, for example, a two, two tens or two hundreds. Playing the game and generally emphasising the language of place value (for example, 293 is two hundred and ninety-three not two-nine-three) helps to avoid the misunderstanding described in the activity Wipe Out. Suitable for threading.


  • One calculator per child

Note: This investigation has been included in Maths At Home. In this form it has fresh context and purpose and, in some cases, additional resources. Maths At Home activity plans encourage independent investigation through guided 'homework', or, for the teacher, can be an outline of a class investigation.
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The game is played by two players. The players secretly enter a number in a chosen range, say 100 - 999. They then take turns asking for a digit. If one of the opponent's digits is guessed the opponent must state the value of the digit. eg:

Suppose Player A has 145 on the screen and Player B asks:

Please may I have a 4?
Player A must answer:
Yes, you may have 4 tens.
At this point Player A would have to subtract 40 from his/her total and Player B would have to add 40 to his/hers.


  • addition facts beyond 10
  • addition facts to 10
  • decimal interpretation
  • exploring large numbers
  • mathematical conversation
  • number line - ordering, operations
  • numeral recognition
  • operations - whole number
  • place value
  • recording - calculator
  • subtraction
  • writing numerals

If a player does not have the digit requested, they answer:

Sorry I don't have one.
If a player has more than one of the digits requested, they may give any one without revealing that they have others.
Play continues like this until one player either reaches a calculator screen above 999 and wins, or below 100 and loses.
For older children the game can also be played within a decimal range, say 01 to 10.
  • What would the screen look like if it was displaying a number smaller than 01?

Return to Calculating Changes Activities

Calculating Changes ... is a division of ... Mathematics Centre