The Numberbet Song

Recently, my first-cousin-by-marriage-once-removed, Henry, asked his dad an important question. While watching a football game he said: ‘Do they use all the numbers in the numberbet for the football jerseys?’ Wow. That is fun on several levels. How would you answer this 4-year-old’s question? My first thought was ‘no’ as I interpreted the question to mean, literally, do they use all the numbers. The ‘numbers’ then would be the analog to the words that letters combine to create, and so, certainly, the jerseys don’t use all the infinite possible numbers. But then I realized that, since he creates the word ‘numberbet’ that he is possibly seeing the numbers as digits (analog to the letters in the alphabet) but doesn’t know the word digit yet. That means the answer is ‘yes’! They do use all the digits in the numberbet for the players’ jerseys. Just as any good book uses all the letters of the alphabet, any sports team would use all the digits to name, or denominate, their players. What do you think? Much to the bemusement of those around me, I imagine, I have often bemoaned the fact that we don’t have a good digit song to match the alphabet song that kids insist on singing. Kids are mislead by the counting sequence 1-10, in that they see 1-10 as the foundation of the numbers that build from there. But, in fact, it is the digits 0-9 that are the foundation of all other whole numbers, just as the alphabet is the foundation for building all words. This is my effort to rectify that situation. Enjoy and please share far and wide with as many little ones as possible! Viva la Numberbet!

The Digit Song  aka The Numberbet Song   

(sung to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star; Lyrics Valerie Faulkner © 2014)  

C               F        C

0, 1, and 2 and 3

F                 C         G                C

These are digits don’t you see

C       F       C        G

4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9,

C                 F         C        G

These are digits oh so fine

C                        F               C

Digits, Digits, numbers not

F           C                G                        C

‘til you tell them where’s their spot.

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I am a Teaching Assistant Professor in the Elementary Education department at NC State where I specialize in Math Methods. I went to Duke where I earned a B.A. in Anthropology and played on the Golf Team. I have an M.Ed. in Special Education and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in mathematics education, both from NC State. My interest in Math waned in middle and high school. But when I began to support high school students in math as part of my job as a special educator, I became interested in the cultural and instructional aspects of mathematics. And now, 20 years later, that's pretty much all I think about. But I do love to swim, garden and, with my partner Jenn, watch our backyard bees make honey which they store in their hexagonal spaces--see 'the isoperimetric problem' or take a look at this website:


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3 Comments on “The Numberbet Song”

  1. Barb Smalley
    February 22, 2014 at 4:55 pm #

    Numbers … NOT! ’til you tell them where’s their spot.
    I like. Very much.

  2. April 15, 2014 at 3:32 pm #

    It wonderful to see someone else with this concept. I think it’s the way babies ought to begin learning numbers. I have a little different version of The Digit Song that can be found on the website

    Great idea…

    • April 16, 2014 at 9:33 am #

      Thanks for the note. I checked out your song too! You have a nice explanation along with it. Go team go!

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