Please May I Have
Years 2 - 6


A game for two players, each with a calculator.

Preparation

This game is special because it emphasises the use of good manners when you ask for something. An adult might be needed to help introduce the game.
  • One calculator each (there's one on your phone)
  • Write the title of this challenge and today's date on a fresh page in your maths journal.

How To Play Please May I Have

The game makes a point of correctly using place value language. For example, instead of saying the number in the photo is three-five-two, players would say three hundred and fifty-two.
  • The game is played by two (2) players, each with their own calculator.
  • Players secretly enter a number in a chosen range, say 100 - 999.
    For example the player in the photo has entered 352 (three hundred and fifty-two).
  • Players take turns to ask for a digit that they hope will be on the other player's screen.
  • If one of the opponent's digits is guessed the opponent must state the value of the digit.
Example

Suppose Player A has 352 on the screen and Player B asks:

Please may I have a 5?
Player A must answer:
Yes, you may have 5 tens.
At this point Player A would subtract 50 from his/her total and Player B would add 50 to his/hers.
Then it would be Player A's turn to ask.

But, suppose Player A has 352 on the screen and Player B asks:

Please may I have a 9?
Player A must answer:
Sorry, I don't have one.
At this point both screens stay the same. Then it would be Player A's turn to ask.

Keep playing until one player either reaches a screen above 999 (nine hundred and ninety-nine) and wins,
or a screen below 100 and loses.

Special Rule

  • If a player has more than one of the digits requested, they may give any one without revealing that they have others.

Have fun exploring Please May I Have.

We suggest it is used at least three (3) times a week for about fifteen (15) minutes over several weeks.

Make the game more challenging, especially for older learners, by asking questions like:

  • What happens if ... we start with a range from 750 to 1,250?
  • What happens if ... we start with a range from 01 to 10?
    What would your screen look like if it was smaller than 01?

Just Before You Finish

Answer this question in your maths journal.
  • What do you know now that you didn't know when you started Please May I Have?

 

Answers & Discussion

These notes were originally written for teachers. We have included them to support parents to help their child learn from Please May I Have.

Send any comments or photos about this activity and we can start a gallery here.

 

Maths At Home is a division of Mathematics Centre