In Games and warm-ups

Recently, during a discussion about favourite warm-up games on Twitter, the game, Buzz, was nominated. As I quickly typed my objections and suggested several alternatives, I decided that this was a good time to write a post as to why Buzz should no longer be a favourite game in maths classrooms.

What is Buzz?

Although there are possibly alternative rules played across the country, the basic set-up of the game Buzz is that all students in the class stand up. The teacher will nominate a number, for example 5, and students will begin counting forwards be one going around the room (or circle) with each student saying the next number in the sequence. When students arrive at a multiple of the nominated number, instead of saying the number, the student will instead say “Buzz!”. If students either miss the count or say the number instead of saying “Buzz!” they are out of the game and need to sit down. Play continues until one student remains or the count reaches a given end target.

For example, the initial sequence of responses in the game described above would be:

1, 2, 3, 4, Buzz, 6, 7, 8, 9, Buzz, 11, 12, …

What is the problem with Buzz?

  • Students must quickly recite the number sequence aloud, replacing some numbers with the word “buzz’
  • This process is confusing for students with limited understanding of the number sequence or knowledge of multiples
  • Students who make errors are eliminated

How Buzz can be improved?

  • Rather than saying “buzz’ on selected multiples students could say the correct number and perform an action
  • For example, for multiples of 5, students could place their hands on their heads
  • Access to a counting chart or number line could be provided
  • All students can now hear and see the correct number sequence

Alternative Games

The following alternative games allow students to practice their ability to recall the number sequence and identify multiples of numbers, but do not penalise students for suggesting incorrect answers.

More information about the game Buzz and possible alternatives can be found in the PDF below.

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