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Blind Heist

Secretly divide your tokens into three vaults, then count and compare. The higher number wins.

Ages: 3+
Players: 2+
Time: Under 10 Minutes
Type: number games
Location: tabletop
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Ages: 3+
Players: 2+
Time: Under 10 Minutes
Type: number games
Location: tabletop

Instructions

Each player gets 10 tokens. Use poker chips, coins, checkers, crackersanything stackable will work. Draw lines on a piece of paper to split it into three parts, or "vaults." Set up a divider between players so you can place your tokens without your opponent seeing.

Paper divider set up between two stacks of tokens

Each round, stack your tokens into the three vaults. You might try to split your tokens somewhat evenly, in piles of 3, 3, and 4. Or you could choose to put 8 tokens in the middle and only 1 on each side, or put all of your tokens in one pile. Once everyone has arranged their tokens, remove the divider to count and compare. Whichever player has more tokens stacked in each vault gets a point. (If the stacks are equal in a vault, players tie and no point is awarded for that vault.) In the example below, Blue gets two points for having more tokens in the first and third vaults, and Red gets a point for having more tokens in the middle vault.

Paper divider set up between red and blue tokens

After three rounds, the player with the most points wins the game!

Let your child count the piles, compare, and keep score.

For older players, help them try different strategies by asking questions: "Do you think I would win if I put all my tokens in one pile?" or "What if I split them up pretty evenly?" Look for opportunities to ask for predictions. If Blue wins the first two vaults that are compared, ask, "I wonder who is going to win the last vault." (Because each player has 10 tokens to distribute, it is impossible for one player to have more tokens in all three sections.)

For the youngest math beasts, consider playing just a single round, and don't worry about strategy. Counting and comparing are important skills in their own right.

Don't forget: it's Beast Academy Playground, not Beast Academy Study Hall. Change the rules, be silly, make mistakes, and try again. The Variations and Learning Notes are here for you if you want to dive deeper, but not all of them apply to learners of every age. The most important thing is to have fun.

Variations d

More Vaults:

Each player divides their tokens among 5 vaults instead of 3.

More Tokens:

Each player has 20 tokens instead of 10.

More Players:

With 3 (or even more) players, each player gets their own own paper and divider, and labels their three vaults with symbols, such as a triangle, a circle, and a star. After placing their tokens, players can see who had the most tokens in the triangle vault, then the circle vault, then the star vault. A player earns 2 points for "winning" a vault outright, by having more tokens than each of the other players. If two players tie to beat another player, they each earn 1 point. For more players, it can be helpful to increase the number of tokens and vaults.

Classroom Tips d

Play Blind Heist to practice counting and comparing. Or use it after a test or quiz.

Discussion Questions

  • Can you win a round if you put all your chips in one pile?
  • Can you win a round if you put all your chips in two even piles?
  • Can you make 3 equal piles?
  • If you win the first two stacks, can you win the third one too?
  • What's the best strategy to win and why?
  • How is the game different if we have fewer tokens? Or more?
  • How is the game different if we have fewer vaults? Or more?

Alignment with Beast Academy Curriculum

  • Level 2, Chapter 12: Problem Solving
  • Level 4, Chapter 6: Logic

See Variations and Learning Notes for more ideas on how to adapt this activity and incorporate it into your classroom.

Learning Notes d

Strategic Thinking:

Ask what a losing strategy for this game would be. It's a bit simpler to identify a really bad distribution of tokens than a really good one. A particularly bad strategy would be to place all 10 tokens in a single vault, and leave each of the other vaults empty. This guarantees a loss in 2 of 3 vaults (or at best a tie if the other player were to also play 10-0-0). Can kids explain why? If 10-0-0 is a losing strategy, how much better is 9-1-0? What about 8-1-1?

Another way to think about optimal strategies is to first think about a simpler version of the game. Ask kids to think about a version of the game in which each player has only 6 tokens, for example. Or ask what would happen if there were only 2 vaults in which to place tokens. These questions can be fun and rewarding to explore together.

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Materials
  • paper
  • pencil
  • 20 tokens
Learning Goals
  • counting
  • comparison
  • strategic thinking
Common Core Standards
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Image of Ms. Q

Ready to level up?

Keep problem solving with Beast Academy’s full math curriculum for students ages 7–13. Check out our captivating comic book series and immersive online platform.

LEARN MORE

Bring problem-solving to your classroom

Keep your entire class engaged with a full book and online math curriculum, for students ages 7–13. 98% of teachers say they’re satisfied with Beast Academy.

LEARN MORE
Image of a BA book