The Dancing Numbers Game

The Dancing Numbers Game or Mezzin' Around in the Classroom

This game has been designed by Eva Navarro to boost the morale in the classroom.

The “Dancing Numbers Game” affirms the joy of music, dancing, mathematics and computing. This game is dedicated to the mysterious prime numbers. Our game consists of two parts: 1) the “Mezzin' around warming up”, and 2) the “Prime-odd-even number grand finale”. The second part requires a bit more concentration than the first one. Both parts can be done separately.

Dancing numbers are inspired by the song "I'se A-Muggin" from the 1936 LP “Mezzin' Around” by Mezz Mezzrow. The year 1936 is especially important in the history of computer science. In 1936, Alan Turing defined one of the pillars of computing (do you know what it is?).

Before starting the game, it would be ideal to play the song “I'se A-Muggin'”. If this song is not available, any groovy music (preferably swing of the 1920s and 1930s) would be a great boost of morale. Indeed, music could be played as background during the duration of the game.

Ready to start?


1) First part: the mezzin' around warming up. We count from 1 up to 70, and say the number. Some numbers will be substituted by the following words:

  • Up to 10, our favourite prime number 7, will be substituted by “AH”. Number 10 will be substituted by “WOF”.

  • After reaching 7, any number containing 7 or any number which can be divided by 7 will be substituted by “AH, AH”.

  • After reaching 10, any number ending with 0 (when you reach 20) will be substituted by “WOF, WOF”.

2) Second part: the prime-odd-even number grand finale. Now, we are ready for a more complicated pattern. We will start counting from 1 up to 50. You will count up to infinity, when you become an expert. You will say the number and make the following movements and sounds:

  • If the number that you say is an odd number, you will move the hips to the left and clap once. We will label this movement as “L” (left).

  • If the number that you say is an even number, you will move the hips to the right and clap twice rhythmically. We will label this movement as “R” (right).

  • If the number you say is a prime number, you will make a turn in free style. We will label this movement as “T” (turn). The property of 'being a prime number' has priority over 'being an even number' and 'being an odd number'. This means that when you reach a number which is a prime number, you will always make a turn. Please, remember that all prime numbers (except 2) are odd numbers. Don't get dizzy right at the start that there are lots of prime numbers!

You can make variations of this game to understand in a fun way the concept of other types of series of numbers (for example, Fibonacci numbers). It is better that you do not read any template while you are performing and having fun, since this game encourages reasoning about numbers, not just repeating patterns with your body. However, the next page shows what you would be doing while counting up to 30 in both parts of this game. You can put it on the wall if you feel unsure at the beginning.

Let's count and have fun!

Would you like to learn in my classes?