What’s my Line number?


  1. Practise the exercise in focusing
  2. Recall the story from last week and see if children have evidence of further thinking on the theme, especially in connection with the ‘Thought for the Week’.
  3. Play ‘What’s My Line?’ then try ‘What’s My Number?’
  4. Move to the ‘Questions for Thinking’, to consider ways of thinking that may be used in order to play the
  5. Close by praising individuals or groups who have shown good thinking, been focussed on their work, and so


This game is based on an American television show of years ago, where a celebrity guest, sometimes with an unusual occupation ‘signed in’. The panel had a limited number of questions to discover what the guest’s ‘line’ was – that is, what they did for a living.

  • To play the game in the classroom, a child is the ‘guest’ and thinks of an occupation. For example, postman, policewoman, helicopter pilot, and so
  • One person is scorer and keeps a tally on the
  • The class now have to ask questions of the guest – who can only answer either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ – nothing
  • The scorer keeps a tally of the

YES     III                                  NO   II                  etc.

  • For the class to win the game, they must correctly guess the occupation before 10 ‘no’s’ are reached. The ‘guest’ wins if the 10 ‘no’s’ are
  • If a child guesses correctly, that child becomes the ‘guest’ for the next

The class soon learn (or sometimes the teacher needs to get them thinking about the fact) that to directly go to specific occupations soon exhausts the ten ‘no’s’. They have to think of strategies that will enable them to narrow down the possibilities. Such questions might include ‘Do you wear a uniform?’, ‘Do you work outdoors?’, ‘Do you deal with the pub- lic in your job?’. Obviously, if the answer to ‘Do you wear a uniform?’, is ‘Yes’, then that eliminates all jobs where the person does not have a uniform.

It is important, after playing the game a couple of times, perhaps without too much success on the part of the class, to let them discuss what some strategies might be, before playing again.


This is similar to ‘What’s my Line?’ except that instead of a job, a number is held in mind. The teacher can limit this to what is suitable to the class. For example, numbers less than 100, less than 1000, and so on. Of course, a class can also start with a smaller limit and raise it as they become more skilled.

  • In this game, the nature of the questions will be somewhat different – ‘Is the number a multiple of 10?’, ‘Is the number divisible by two?’ and so The mathematical con- cepts will have to be suitable to the age limit, and can be phrased in the mathematical language used by the class.


1.   If you were the person acting as the ‘guest’, was there a temptation to cheat? (Change the answer you had in your head)

2.   If you had, what do you think would have been the effect?

3.   If you didn’t get the answer quite quickly did you feel like giving up, or that it was a silly game? Why? What other feelings did you have?

4.  What strategies (ways of thinking or asking questions) did you use?

5.   How would you know if it was a good way of thinking or not so good?

6.  Did you learn a way of thinking or asking questions from listening to others? Is this cheating? Why or why not?

7.   If you learned a way of asking questions in one game, did it work in the next game? Why or why not?