Bingo (Lotto) is used as a fundraiser and readily adapts into an educational game and has been used educationally since the 1800’s.

Bingo is well known in the UK for its association with seaside amusements and now a bigger business as seen with the Bingo Halls in Europe, Australia and the US. It derives from the Italian lottery Lo Giuoco del Lotto d’Italia which started in 1530. A version of the game called le Lotto was noted to be popular with the French intelligentsia in 1778, which used cards with 3 rows of 9 squares, each row had 5 numbers in it (15 numbers in all) between 1-90. No numbers were repeated on each card and each card was different. Wooden counters numbered 1-90 were drawn randomly from a cloth bag and the number drawn called out. The aim was to be the first to complete a horizontal row.

In the US Lotto was adapted to ‘Beano’ using cards marked in a 5×5 square arrangement, with a number in each of the squares except for the middle one which was blank or ‘free’. Edward Lowe, a toy salesman, came across Beano being played and started to market this as Bingo after a friend while playing this accidentally called ‘Bingo’ out instead of ‘Beano’.

For the 5×5 arrangement the aim is to complete any vertical, horizontal or diagonal line and only the numbers 1-75 are used. Other patterns/arrangements now exist.

The origins of the game also explain why in the UK and Australia, the 3×9 cards are used, while in the US you will find the 5×5 cards.

European Lotto

It’s possible to buy ready made lotto sets, but if you want to make your own you’ll need to create 90 counters, each one numbered from 1 – 90 and placed in a cloth bag so that person who draws them out does so at random and is unable to see which number to pick out.

Cards are 9×3 grids (3 rows of 9 squares) with 15 numbers randomly picked from 1-90 (none repeating) printed in 15 of the squares, so that there are 5 randomly placed in each row occupying different locations (4 grid spaces are always empty in each row). You will need to create a set of different cards one for each player or if planning to play this several times a different one for each player each round.

A caller picks the counters from the bag, calling out the numbers as he/she does so. The first player to have 5 numbers on one of their 3 rows called out, shouts ‘bingo’ or ‘Lotto’.

Some variations:

Arithmetic Bingo

Instead of creating counters with the numbers on them, why not create a set of simple (or hard if you are feeling evil) arithmetic sums which equate to the values of 1-90? Call or write these out. Players then have to complete the sums to work out which value was called.

Animal Bingo

Human Bingo

Person Scavenger Hunt Bingo

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