Posted 3/3/11
Perhaps you would like to see the clip again in slow motion. Last year, the Rubik’s Cube turned 30 years old. Here is an activity for using the video of the word’s fastest Rubik’s Cube solve to teach numbers between 1 and 30.
  • Language level: Beginner
  • Learner type: Young learners; Teens; Adults
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Activity: Betting game
  • Topic: Rubik’s Cubes
  • Language: Numbers (1 – 30)
  • Materials: Video; Number flashcards
The numbers game pdf [downloaded 3110 times]

Lesson plan outline

To prepare for this activity, cut up the number cards which are provided in the PDF download.

Note that this activity will work best if you can take a Rubik’s Cube into class although this is not essential.

  1. Write the following numbers on the board and drill pronunciation of them:
  2. 6; 8; 12; 30; 36
  3. Tell students that you have a mystery object in your bag, behind your back, in your mind, etc.  Tell students that the numbers on the board relate it.
  4. Give students the following clues about the mystery object and ask them to guess what it is by writing down answers rather than shouting them out:
    • It has/It’s got 6 faces
    • It has/It’s got 8 corners
    • It has/It’s got 12 edges (teach students this word by running your finger along the edge of a table)
    • It has/It’s got 54 stickers
    • It was 30 years old last year (i.e. in 2010)
  5. Find out if anyone knows what the mystery object is. Show students your Rubik’s Cube or use an image search site to find a picture of one.
  6. Show students the first frame of the paused video. Tell them that the young man’s name is Feliks Zemdegs. Ask students to guess what he is going to do. Establish that he is going to set the world record fastest time for solving a Rubik’s Cube.
  7. Note that on YouTube, the title of the clip tells us the answer – i.e. that Felix solves the Cube in 6.65 seconds. Of course, it is very important that students don’t see this. There are two ways of getting around this problem:

    • Set up the video display on full-screen mode. In YouTube’s full-screen mode, titles are not displayed.
    • Download the clip (with Savevid for example) and give it a new name.
  8. On the board, write and drill the following question:
  9. How many seconds does Feliks need to solve the Rubik’s Cube?

    Hold your finger to your lips to signal that you don’t want students to shout out their answers, especially if they have an idea about what the record is.

  10. Place all of the cards number-side-up on a table or on the floor. Invite students to take turns to choose a number (i.e. to choose their closest possible prediction). Let students take it in turns to pick up cards until there are none left. So, for example, if you have five students in the class, they will each end up with six cards.
  11. Place all of the cards number-side-up on a table or on the floor. Invite students to take it in turn to choose a number card which corresponds to their guess. Don’t just let them pick up one card each – let them take it in turn to pick up cards until there are none left. So, for example, if you have five students in the class, they will all end up with six cards.
  12. Every now and again, ask students to say the numbers that they choose before drilling the whole class’s pronunciation of the number.
  13. When all of the cards have been picked up, play the clip and find out who won. In this case it will be the student who chose the number 7 (the closest to 6.65).


Play the game with the cards number-side-down. This way students then have no control over which numbers they pick. Once all cards have been picked up, give students the opportunity to swap numbers. However, they should do this by telling each other what numbers they have and not showing their cards. That way, students are given the opportunity to practice spoken production of the target language (i.e. the numbers) as well as listening. You may want to pre-teach some useful phrases:

  • I have x / I’ve got x
  • Who has y? / Who’s got y?
  • Would you swap x for y?

Other videos that can be used for this activity

Image credit

The Rubik’s Cube image used in this lesson plan was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

Posted 3/3/11

13 Responses to The numbers game

  1. ann says:

    Hi Jamie,

    Great, engaging plan. Have posted it on our TeachingEnglish facebook page so that the more than 16,000 readers/contributors there can benefit from it.

    Feel free to post on the page directly when you want to share more things with us.



  2. Jamie Keddie says:

    Hello Ann
    Thank you very much for doing that. I really appreciate your help. Hope to see you at TESOL-Spain this year.
    Jamie :)

  3. Fabio says:

    Excelente plan, revisaré cuantos mas hayas publicado, te felicito. Chao

  4. Jamie Keddie says:

    Gracias Fabio :)

  5. Jamie Keddie says:

    How long can this cat food thief stay balanced in this precarious manner?

  6. Beata says:

    A perfect lesson plan – I have already done it with my pupils.
    They loved it!
    Thank you.

  7. Jamie Keddie says:

    New world record set by the same lad (Feliks Zemdegs). 6.24 seconds! He’s on fire. Well done Feliks (and thanks for putting my lesson out of date!)

  8. Callie Wilkinson says:

    Hi Jamie :)

    ‘The Numbers Game’ has always been a success with my beginner groups (in particular the spinning hamster video), and this Rubik’s Cube variation was no exception.

    Thanks so much for this, and everything else on this super site.

    p.s. the students particularly enjoyed telling me that 6 (faces) multiplied by 9 (stickers per face) is, in fact, 54 ;)

  9. Jamie Keddie says:

    Hey Callie
    Oh dear – please excuse my arithmetic. But it’s good that your students were on the ball. Anyway, I have updated it now.
    Thanks for the comment. Great to hear from you.
    Jamie :-)

  10. Anna says:

    Your lesson plans are simply a 100% guaranty of success. They work perfectly EVERY time I use them. I think, I owe a considerable part of my good reputation as a teacher to you and your brilliant website! :) Thank you so much and please do keep on!

  11. Jamie Keddie says:

    Anna – you are lovely and you win nice comment of the day prize!
    But don’t think you owe me anything – these lesson plans are just recipes. You are the chef!
    Jamie :)

  12. Isabel V says:

    Dear Jamie
    Thank you for filling up the -at this moment- large cavities in my brain. Normally these cavities are filled with creative ideas and interactive activities. Now they are quite empty and as dry as the desert in Nigeria. I must say that this unfortunate symptom is caused by the fact that I started teaching this September (I finally am a real English teacher, bless Jupiter!) and I really have been drowning in work: preparing my lessons, meeting for school councils, moving to my new flat, cleaning the darn place, buying a litter box for my weird cat and 1455 million other things. Thanks to your great website my pupils call me ‘the nutty English teacher who gives funny lessons’ and that’s a good thing! It is unbelievable how these children progress every time I enroll an item from your website in my lessons! So, I was thinking of a nice way to thank Mr. Keddie! While a was doubting to name my potential future child ‘Lessonstream’, I decided to leave a humble ‘thank you’ on your website (my creative mind has no limits as you see). And if you ever give a lecture in Belgium, let me know and I’ll be there with my notebook!
    Thanks again!
    Isabel (the nutty English teacher)

  13. Jamie Keddie says:

    Hello Isabel, the nutty English teacher!
    Nice to meet you. Thanks for your comment. I would be interested to know how a child called Lessonstream would get on in life. Could be interesting.
    Hope to get back to Belgium one day soon.
    Jamie :)