Mr Kemp NZ

Mystery Number Skype – An adapted version for young students

Two weeks ago I was lucky enough to work with 100’s of educators in New Zealand during a conference I was speaking at. One of the sessions I ran was focussed on utilizing Skype and Mystery Skype in the classroom as a tool to engage students in learning. This week I received an exciting narrative from Carolyn Aberhart and her class about their experience of Mystery Skype and what their first experience looked like. Carolyn works with 6 year-olds, so adapted the official Mystery Skype idea to a game of Guess the Mystery Number. Thanks to Carolyn, here it is:

On Friday, we had our first ever mystery number skype with another Year 1 class in our school. Doing it with another class in our school made me feel more confident about giving this ago. Working with technology is a big enough challenge sometimes nevermind adding 5-6-year-olds into the mix!


Our challenge was to guess a number between 1 – 100. We practiced asking questions during number knowledge time – looking at different questions that would get rid of the most numbers ie. greater than, less than, odd/even, in between etc. They seemed to be getting quite good at asking questions and guessing the number during our hotspot focus.


The children were split into 2 teams. One team would be guessing the number and the other team would be choosing and answering the other classes questions. Within those teams, there were different roles. Leaders, runners, speakers, number-board controllers and questioning/answering. We decided that one class would guess the other’s number and then the other classes would have their turn to guess.


We thought 20 minutes would be plenty of time for both classes to guess the numbers. But no! 25 minutes was only enough for 1 class. It was by no means the perfect skype session. But that is all part of the learning journey for the students and ourselves. Here are some of the outcomes from our session:

  • Even though we had a test skype the day before and all seemed well, there was some sound interference on the day that was very distracting for us all.
  • It was interesting how adding the ‘pressure’ of a real skype affected some of the students. Mathematicians who were great at asking ‘good’ questions during the practices weren’t so confident and really struggled and some of the weaker mathematicians began to shine. Changing the context really threw them.
  • Because it was taking longer than we thought I hadn’t considered what I would do with some of my students who are not very good at self-managing. They became more distracting as the session progressed making it harder for the other team to focus. Next time I am giving the iPads to those students to be the photographers. Hopefully, that will help.
  • Friday afternoon was probably not the best time of the week to do it but you do what you can when you can.
  • Having the session with a colleague meant that we were able to sit down and discuss how it went from both perspectives.


At the end of the session, we did a PMI. The students identified the same things as me. They loved the game. They were happy that Room 15 guessed our number. They didn’t like the people yelling and being silly. They were disappointed they didn’t get a chance to guess the number. Next time they want the sound fixed and to guess Room 15’s number. It is amazing what students of any age can do when given the opportunity to share their voice!

Has this put us off? No!! Round 2 is Monday – Our turn to guess Room 15’s number. I think the more we do it, the better and quicker we will get. At the moment, it is very much supported/directed by the teacher. Our next step is to try and get them to take over the session more. Eventually, we might even be able to run both classes asking and answering at the same time. Wouldn’t that be great to see!


If you are interested in connecting with Carolyn’s class for an international game of Mystery Number Skype then contact her via her Twitter profile here.

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Craig Kemp

Craig Kemp

I am a passionate Global EdTech Consultant based in Singapore but working with Schools and EdTech companies all over the world. I am a lifelong learner, dream creator and thought leader. I love to inspire others and find inspiration. Co-founder of #whatisschool, #asiaED edchats and #pubPD.

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