Not that it’s fun to count to 1000, but kids will not believe you until you show them not only that you CAN count to 1000 on your fingers, but how to do it. 

(I suspect some of the adults reading this aren’t convinced either). 

I taught this to my 11 year old son last week.  When we started, he didn’t believe me, until I showed him how he could count to 31 on one hand.  He counted to 31 at least four times, to get it in his head exactly how it works.  Then, we added one finger of his other hand, and he made it to 63.  We added two fingers of his left hand, and we made it to 127.  After that, he was convinced.  I chatted about the way to represent numbers with fingers and we talked about how high you can go on two hands (the answer is 1023).  He accepted that it was not only possible, but he wanted to be the master of it to show his friends. 

It’s fun and interesting, and helps introduce kids to basic math concepts that will be useful in middle and high school and, hopefully, into careers in the sciences, technology, engineering, or mathematics. 

How can you count to over 1000 on the fingers of your hands?  I’ll come up with a graphic and post it here in a day or so.  Until then, let’s see if my computing friends have figured it out…

By Nick Malik

Former CIO and present Strategic Architect, Nick Malik is a Seattle based business and technology advisor with over 30 years of professional experience in management, systems, and technology. He is the co-author of the influential paper "Perspectives on Enterprise Architecture" with Dr. Brian Cameron that effectively defined modern Enterprise Architecture practices, and he is frequent speaker at public gatherings on Enterprise Architecture and related topics. He coauthored a book on Visual Storytelling with Martin Sykes and Mark West titled "Stories That Move Mountains".

7 thoughts on “fun activity for kids: count to 1000 on your fingers”
  1. Is 1000 enough to count the number of jokes kids will make about the number 4 in this way of counting?

  2. Hi Mauricio,

    When I was showing my son, we had to be careful when getting to the number 4 for that reason.  We compromised: The middle finger can remain bent or down, never all the way up.

    We were sitting in a restaurant at the time.  🙂

  3. They should teach this at Uni, half the people I graduated with (Comp Sci) didn’t get said mysterious counting method beyond very basics the first time, and ignored it in every subsequent class (and it was taught it nearly every class).

  4. From the glassgiant site.

    "I am aware of the cultural significance of numbers 4, 13, and 20. :oP"

    13?  I’ve seen that hand gesture, but that was more than 20 years ago, and apparently we used it for our own purposes (effectively, "same sh*t different day")

    Can someone translate for me?  Or better yet, point me to a site that covers a catalog of non-verbal signals and their translations.

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