Education Pack


Education Pack
The Numberjacks Live show is a highly entertaining and
educational show for young children, inspiring them to be
active learners and problem solvers. Please do come to the
show and use the ideas and activities suggested here to inspire
children to enjoy and be confident with early mathematics.
Numberjacks Live is a wonderful experience, and especially for
those who are coming to a live theatre show for the first time it
will be something that they will remember and be inspired by
for a very long time.
For dates see
The Numberjacks Live Show
Numberjacks has always been about education through entertainment –
and the live stage show is the latest and very exciting development. The
Numberjacks First Live Mission: Saving Brain Gain is a brand new theatrical
experience for children (and adults!) – it’s exciting, funny and thoroughly
educational at the same time.
The show is written by Chris Ellis and produced in collaboration with Open
Mind Productions, who have been making learning entertaining for over 20
years, producing award-winning television shows like Zig Zag, Ratatatat,
The Number Crew, Maths Mansion, the Shiny Show and Numberjacks. The
stage show builds on Open Mind’s experience in motivating children and
bringing learning to life to create a highly interactive and lively show, suited
to children from 3 upwards. Although the core learning is focussed on Early
Years and KS 1 maths, the show is also very suitable for children in KS2 as
well, as an inspiration to be an active learner and the chance to
experience engaging and intelligent live theatre.
The show runs for about 35 minutes in each half, with an interval of 20 minutes.
Throughout, the emphasis is keeping the audience actively involved in the
show, with plenty of opportunities to shout, sing, and think for themselves. The
central idea is that the Numberjacks show has gone wrong, and that the
audience have to become Agents to help the Numberjacks work out why,
solve the problems and put the show on themselves. Throughout, the children
are asked to observe, listen, think and solve problems, and generally put their
mathematical skills to use as active learners.
We hope this education pack will help teachers to integrate the experience
of the Live Show within the children’s mathematical and problem-solving
education. There is background information on the Numberjacks, and their
world, and the staging of the show, as well as ideas for activities before and
after the Show. Where useful we include references to the Numberjacks
Mission to Learn website, which can be accessed free on a trial basis, so that
children can explore the mathematical concepts on screen as well as on
The adventures of the Numberjacks have been broadcast on CBeebies
since 2006, and in more than fifty countries around the world.
Things are going wrong – but not for long: the Numberjacks are on their
The Numberjacks are superheroes who solve problems in the real world,
who first made their debut on CBeebies in 2006
They live inside an
ordinary sofa, and answer calls from real-life child “Agents”, reporting
problems that need solving. The Numberjacks have to work out how to
put things right, and thwart the dastardly intentions of their enemies – it
could be the Puzzler, or the Problem Blob, Spooky Spoon, the Shape
Japer or the Numbertaker. After much fun and adventure, and some
powerful thinking from agents and viewers, the Numberjacks win the day
- till next time. The Numberjacks inspire both boys and girls, helping them
to develop early maths skills and understanding, whilst keeping them
highly entertained with slapstick comedy and superhero thrills.
Numberjacks 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 feature in the story or the Live Show,
along with Spooky Spoon and the Numbertaker.
One is nice, a bit self-centred, rather immature. She is
well-meaning but sometimes the source of the problems.
Three is busy, lively, a bit “Me me me!” but she is growing up.
Three is definitely cheerfully eccentric, noisy, fun and full of
Four is a regular sort of number – nice, steady, quite
grown up. He’s not hugely self-confident, but tries not
to panic.
Five is definitely grown up; she’s perceptive, sorts things quite cool, creative, artistic. She likes looking after the
smaller numbers some of the time.
Six is a “bigger” number, he play tricks, is good fun. Six is
quite physical, he’s a cool jumper. He tends to be the
leader of the Numberjacks
Seven is enthusiastic, slightly “new age”, colourful, bright. She’s
a great painter, especially of the seven colours of the rainbow.
Spooky Spoon loves to stir things up and mix them. She really
fancies herself, thinks herself superior to everyone around.
The Numbertaker causes trouble by taking numbers and
“numbers of things”. The sleeves of his long with coat hide
various attachments – a vacuum-cleaner, a net, a hook, a
For more information and pictures about all the Numberjacks and Meanies go to
The show starts with Jamie, who is the
cleaner at the theatre, getting very
excited about the Numberjacks show
being put on. But Jamie has been getting
lots of things mixed up recently, and he
has told the singers and dancers to come
on the wrong day of the week and to the
wrong place. A big problem: there is noone to put the show on – unless there just
happened to be anyone who knew
anything about the Numberjacks and
could sing any of their songs. Jamie and
Astra(the waitress in the theatre café)
lead singing of The Numberjacks are on
their way. They’ve got singers, and now
Astra and Jamie need some dancers.
Astra shows she can manage a step or
two, and the audience join in with highly
creative finger and hand dancing. The
audience count time to help Astra to
dance, then inspire her to dance slower,
faster and higher. All seems to be going
But Astra’s feet get all mixed up
once more – thanks to Spooky
Spoon, who comes flying on the
stage, as ever determined to mix
things up and cause problems.
The audience advise Jamie and
Astra to call the Numberjacks. On
video we see Numberjacks 3, 4, 5,
and 6, who promise to send
someone to help. Numberjacks
need numbers to land on, so the
audience advise Jamie on lining
up large numerals in the correct
Too late Jamie realises there is no numeral 4, and there is a massive crash
offstage. He brings on a large shape swathed in stage cloths who is gradually
unwrapped, inviting the audience to say who it might be. It turns out to be
Numberjack 4, who is very groggy from his crash landing, and staggers
around, unable to speak.
The audience give him directions forward, back, left and right - to help
him get his movement going. Spooky
returns to mix things up again, and the
audience help fire Be nice Brain Gain
at Spooky to make her a nicer person.
Unfortunately Jamie is exposed to too
much Be nice Brain Gain, and
becomes disgustingly nice, and the
audience help Astra take some of it
away to restore him to normal.
After the interval, Jamie and the
audience count up to 4 to get
Numberjack 4 to bumble on stage,
but then he disappears.
Numberjacks promise to send
another Numberjack to help. There
is another crash offstage, and
Jamie goes to investigate.
returns with arms held out stiffly like
a 4 – he’s been turned in to a
number himself. Astra wheels on
another large shape, and out of
comes Numberjack 3 – who has
been turned into a girl! Numberjack
3 has a lot of trouble getting used to
her ‘extra bits’ – hands, arms, legs
and feet – and then ashes off to
find the 4-shaped Jamie, who has
also disappeared.
Astra wonder
who could be taking number 4s,
and asks to audience to let her
know if they see anything while she
goes to look too.
In her absence the Numbertaker
appears, and rather surprisingly sings
the Numbertaker song. Astra returns,
doesn’t see the Numbertaker, and
the audience help her find him
behind the various large geometric
shapes on stage.
3 returns and
scares the Numbertaker away by
annoyingly. Astra and 3 realise that
the Numbertaker is taking 4s, and
they and the audience look for 4s
and things that come in fours. They
find enough 4s to make bring Jamie
back, and the audience manage to
Numbertaker’s sucker-upper.
audience tries to rescue Numberjack
4 but the Numbertaker traps him in
his net.
To everyone’s surprise, another Numberjack
arrives - it’s Numberjack 1, who isn’t usually
allowed out on her own.
Everyone is
interrupted by an emergency call from the
Numberjacks – Brain Gain is disappearing all
over the world. Numberjack 7 is monitoring
Brain Gain on the video screen, and it’s going
out everywhere – except in the town where
the show is taking place. There is such good
thinking going on here that the audience has
got the very last bit of Brain Gain in the world.
The audience think extra hard to help the
Brain Gain grow, and they send the Brain
Gain to the Numberjacks, who send it out to
replenish the world’s stock of good thinking.
We finally defeat the Numbertaker by making
the number 4 with 3 and 1, all is restored to
normal. Everyone sings the Getting Brain
Gain now song, and departs excited and
inspired to have helped the Numberjacks
save Brain Gain for the world.
The show is a real world experience where children practise their
mathematical knowledge and understanding. Above all it aims to
inspire active learning and problem solving; and includes (among others)
these principal focuses of learning:
•Numbers and counting
•Recognising numerals (the landing numbers, unwrapping Numberjacks,
Jamie as 4)
•Number names in order (count into music, counting for dance, 4’s
•Counting (hands, arms, feet, legs)
•Counting in 2s (2, 4, 6, 8)
•Counting things in 4s (corners, fingers)
•Amount (too much niceness, taking away niceness)
•Addition (3+1=4)
•2-d shapes (triangle, square, circle in the set)
•Movement and Direction
•Forward, back, left, right (Staggering Numberjack 4)
The show, like many if not all stories, is a series of problems facing the
good characters, caused by the bad characters) that have to be sorted
out before getting to the happy ending. Compare the Numberjacks
stage show to traditional stories, fairy tales, or cartoons that the children
might know (eg The Three Little Pigs, Cinderella, Toy Story).
•Who are the ‘good’ characters’?
•Who are the ‘bad’ characters?
•What are the problems the good characters face?
•How do they solve them?
•What is the ‘happy ending’.
The Show has a lot of sound, music and song. Enjoy singing the songs
and talk about how they are different in:
•tempo – how slow or fast they are
•instrumentation – what different instruments has the compose chosen
•overall feel
Agents also need to be able to speak, shout and sing. Here are some of
the words of the songs and chats they will need for the show:
0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Things are going wrong!
The Numberjacks are on their way, The Numberjacks are on their way!
Nice! Friendly! Very sweet! Nice! Friendly! Very sweet!
Less nice! Less lovely! Less sugary sweet!
Less nice! Less lovely! Less sugary sweet!
Left, right, left, right! Left, right, left, right!
Brain Gain! Brain Gain!
Before the show
Talk about the Numberjacks and show the children images from the pack and
from Tell the children that they need to be ready to
be Numberjacks agents to help the children, and that the show is both a lot of
fun and a great way to be a better agent.
Remind children that Agents need to be good at:
•Looking and listening
•Spotting any problems or things that are going wrong
•Thinking of ways to put things right
•Trying out there ideas
•Checking they’ve solved the problem
•Never giving up.
•It’s also useful if Agents (especially ones that go the Show) :
•Are good at knowing about maths
•Are good at singing and arm dancing.
•Good agent training will include:
•Recognising numerals and putting them in order
•Counting up and down
•Finding and counting things that come in groups, especially lots of 4 (but it
would be good to practise with different numbers too)
•Finding ways of making numbers using other number s (calculation) like
adding two numbers to make another number. More ambitious agents will try
to make other numbers, and might use substation and other ways of
calculating as well as addition.
•Spotting and naming shapes, especially squares and triangles
•Practising moving forward, backwards, left and right.
After the show
Follow up on any of the learning explored before or during the show.
Talk about the show and what the children enjoyed most and enjoyed
least, and talk about all the people who work together to put the show
•What did they think of the story? (The Writer)
•What did they think of the acting? (The Actors)
•What did they think of the costumes and set? (The Designer)
•What did they think of the music (The Composer)
•What did they think of the way it was all put together? (The Director)
•They could try staging their own version of the show.
•Was the show what they expected?
•How was it different from the television programmes?
•What things can you do in a television programme you can’t do in the
•Why were the only Numberjacks who moved around 4 and 1? What
would be the hardest number to get an actor inside?
•Were the Meanies more exciting and shivery on television or in the
theatre? Why?
Carry on their Agent training, by looking for maths in the world around
them every day. The enclosed Activity Sheets have some good ideas to
get them going.
Schools can also sign up to the Numberjacks Mission to Learn website. Go
to (it’s easiest to google: njmtl).
Schools and nurseries can try out the site free, and if they like it can
contact us to take out a subscription.
The site encourages children to develop their maths skills and
understanding and apply them in real world situations by going on Missions.
Some of the activities and games that are particularly relevant are:
Number Match – count the objects
and choose the matching number
Bloop Ball – count the Bloops and
choose the matching Numberjack
before the Bloop Ball hits to ground.
Jump Pad - Solve the problem of
getting Numberjack 6 to land on the
Picture Board - Explore shapes by
dragging them together to create
pictures and patterns.
Calculator - Play with the Numberjacks
calculator to explore addition and
number bonds.
Games and activities can be played at different levels appropriate to the
age and ability of the child.
© & ™ Open Mind Productions 2011. All rights reserved