Counting Lesson Ideas

  • The sequence for teaching counting is as follows:
    • Teach one to one correspondence.
    • Teach the student to count out loud as they touch each object.
    • Teach the student to tell the total number they have counted.
    • Teach the student to count silently and then say only the total out loud.
    • Teach students to count two sets consecutively - one set and then continue on to the next set to get a grand total.
    • Teach student to join two sets of objects where one of the sets in only one object.
  • Count concrete objects before moving to pictures of objects.
  • Model counting in real life for students - count how many students are here today. Count how many people are ready for recess.
  • Count objects that are of interest to the student.
  • Encourage students to count on their fingers.
  • Show objects to be counted in different arrangements.
  • Give students plastic eggs and an empty egg carton - have them put just one egg in each compartment. There is one egg for each space.
  • At snack time count out enough plates, cups, snacks for each student. "There is one for each of us."
  • Sharing is a great way for your child to learn one-to-one correspondence. Slice up pieces of fruit or put out enough cookies for everyone and allow your child to distribute one to each person. This works for toys and gifts too. At your child's next birthday, allow him to give one goodie bag to each person.
  • Count a group of objects. arrange them differently. Count them again. The number of objects is the same no matter how they are arranged.
  • Cut out stones out of paper - place them around your classroom. Have students count the stepping stones as they step on them. 
  • Count objects around the classroom. Have students walk around the classroom and touch objects as they count them. Don't forget to teach the concept of zero. Ask questions like" how many elephants are in our class?"
  • Have students count how many times you clap your hands or bang on a drum.
  • Ask the students to give you a certain number of objects. Encourage them to count in their heads.
  • Pass a basket of blocks around. Give instructions like "David, I want you to take 7 blocks and give them to Jane." David should count in his head and Jane may count out loud to check his accuracy.
  • Put 2 hula hoops on the ground. Put some bean bags in each hoop. Have students count how many bean bags there are in all.
  • Play board games with dice. Have the students roll the dice and count how many squares they can move.
  • Count ALL the dots on a domino. Ask students which end of the domino has more spots.
  • Count how many times you can bounce a ball before dropping it.
  • As you walk down the hall count your steps all together.
  • Play Number Tag. The student who is it sits in the middle of the circle. Whisper the secret number to them. The other students walk around the circle counting their steps. When "it" hears the number they jump up and try to tag other students.
  • Have the students sit in a circle and count one number for each student until you get to a goal number. If a student is unable to count the next number tell them the answer, have them repeat it and then continue the game.
  • Stand in a circle. Toss a ball around the circle. Count the catches.
  • Walk around the room as you count. Periodically tap a student and they should continue counting from where you left off. Make it a relay. That student now taps another student and so on.
  • Tell students that you are thinking of the number that comes before 8. Can they guess what it is? What about the number after 5?
  • count Smarties
  • Count everything! Count toys, kitchen utensils, and items of clothing as they come out of the dryer. Help your child count by pointing to and moving the objects as you say each number out loud. . Count forwards and backwards from different starting places. . Use household items to practise adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing.
  • Sing counting songs and read counting books. Every culture has counting songs, such as “One, Two, Buckle My Shoe” and “Ten Little Monkeys”, which make learning to count – both forwards and backwards – fun for children. . Counting books also capture children’s imagination, by using pictures of interesting things to count and to add.
  • Match number cards with plates that have various numbers of objects on them.
  • Have students read a number and then show you that many objects.
  • Can you hold up ____ fingers?
  • Have the students sit in a circle. Walk around the outside of the circle and lightly tap some students on the head. These students should stand up. Have the class count how many students are standing.
  • Give each student a grocery bag with a number taped to the outside. Have them "shop" around the classroom for that number of objects.
  • Hold up a number card. ask a student to bounce a ball that many times. Have the other students count silently to make sure that the ball was bounced the correct number of times.
  • Spin a spinner. The student should do an action of your choice that many times. Hop on one foot, jump up and down, etc.
  • Put different numbers on a series of tin cans. Have students clip the corresponding number of clothespins to each can. Then ask them to put the cans in order.
  • Write the numbers 1-12 in the bottom of an empty egg carton - one number in each compartment.  Have students count out the corresponding number of objects for each section.
  • Make 2 sets of footprints out of construction paper. One set should have numbers on it, the other set should have the corresponding number of stickers or dots. Have students match the two sets of footprints.
  • Fold a piece of paper so that it makes 10 rectangular sections. Use rubber stamps or stickers to show objects that correspond to the numbers 0-9.
  • Play Old Maid (click here for a link to instructions) with a deck of cards (just the number cards) or make your own deck with a set of number cards and a set of cards with quantities drawn on them.
  • Make 2 sets of cards. One should have numbers 0-10 written on them and the other should have corresponding quantities drawn on them. 
  • Give students a series of number cards in order. Now put two numbers out of order and see if student can re-sequence them. 
  • Have student sequence a set of numbers.
  • Give each student 1 number card to hold. Have the students arrange themselves in sequential order.
  • Challenge students to fill in the missing numbers in a sequence. 
  • Play a number guessing game. Start by telling the students the range that they are guessing in, "I'm thinking of a number between 4 and 10."  As they guess tell them whether your number is higher or lower than their guess. 
  • Pin a number to a student's back. Have them stand in front of the class so that everyone can see their number. Have them ask the class questions to try and guess the number on their back.
  • Label 10 index cards with numerals 1-10 (or 10-20 whatever level suits your child). On the back of each card stick on the appropriate number of stickers, i.e., 6 stickers on back of the card labeled "6." I bought a large set of mini-stickers for this purpose. Check the stationary aisle - look for stickers that are dime-sized or smaller. Anyway, provide a supply of counters that are small enough to barely cover the stickers. I used transparent plastic bingo markers in different colors, but you could also use beads, beans etc. Have the child 1) place a card numeral side up, 2) count out the correct number of counters, 3) turn the card over and match up counters & stickers in one-to-one correspondence. This is a self checking activity. If the stickers and counters don't match up something is wrong. He can repeat with additional cards until bored, or have a "rule" like "choose and do 4 cards then stop."
  • During free play introduce this game to a few children at a time.  With the marker teachers number cans with dots (I used one through six). Let children count the number of dots on each can. Then let children try to toss that many caps into the can. Children will find this fun game among friends, seeing who can get more caps into the cans. 
  • Have children in your circle on their feet, get a beat going with a clap and a stomp & say "Get your potatoes up! And let's count!"  Hold up fists (potatoes) to count with fingers up as indicated:

One potato, two potato, three potato, four! 
Well, I made a batch of hot potatoes 
bend forward and stir as in a big pot
Dropped 'em on the floor!! 
look shocked, and put hands on face in surprise)

Five potato, six potato, seven potato, eight! 
So I stomped 'em into mashed potatoes 
stomp feet while walking forward a few  steps and then back
And plopped 'em on a plate 
hands out like plopping potatoes on a plate!)

Nine potato, ten potato, can't believe my eyes! 
cover and uncover eyes in surprise
The children ate 'em up and now they want some french fries!!! 
Say to children "how many?" and march with swinging arms and stomping feet while counting...) 
 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 fries!  
jump up and reach over head to sky on 10
Do the count again, faster and a third time even faster then plop back down to sitting after the last 10. 

This is SO aerobic and the children love the notion of making mashed potatoes by stomping. Also intriguing to them is the faster and faster counting to ten.

The Bakery Shop (adapted) 
Down around the corner at the bakery shop 
There were 9 little donuts with the sugar on top, 
Along came (child's name) all alone 
She picked up the red one and she ran on home.

Five Little Speckled Frogs 
Five little speckled frogs,
Sitting on a speckled log,
Eating the most delicious bugs, yum, yum.
One jumped into the pool
Where it was nice and cool.
Then there were four speckled frogs.

Continue until only one frog is left

One little specked frog. 
Sitting on a speckled log,
Eating the most delicious bugs, yum, yum.
He jumped into the pool
Where it was nice and cool.
Now there are no speckled frogs.

  •  "Here's a little different twist to one of the songs / rhymes you have. I took a green plastic gardening glove and a  black Sharpie marker and made "speckles" all over the fingers, then made two eyes and a smile on the outside tip of each finger. l found an old "speckled" tree branch "log" in my yard. 
  • I held the log with my left hand and "danced" the "frogs" ( my right gloved hand) while singing the song. When one dived into the pool, I jumped my right hand onto the floor space between me and the students and had the "frogs" wiggle around, sometimes touching the students shoes. Each time I took away a frog (folding a finger down) until when none were left I put my hands behind my back and took off the glove. The students really enjoyed the "puppet" show and practiced counting, too."
  • Teachers with marker, on the muffin liners write numbers 1-10 and then have the kids count and sort that many items into each liner. 

Johnny Hammers

Johnny hammers with one hammer (pound on the floor with your fist)
One hammer
One hammer
Johnny hammers with one hammer
Johnny hammers with two hammers (pound on the floor with both fist)
Two hammers
Two hammers
Johnny hammers with two hammers
Johnny hammers with three hammers (pound on the floor with both fist and one foot)
Three hammers
Three hammers
Johnny hammers with three hammers
Johnny hammers with four hammers (pound on the floor with both fist and both feet)
Four hammers
Four hammers
Johnny hammers with four hammers
Johnny hammers with five hammers (pound on the floor with both fist, both feet, and nod your head)
Five hammers
Five hammers
Johnny hammers with five hammers

I Can Count

You put one finger up
You put one finger down
You put one finger up
And you shake it all around
You give it a shakey-shakey
And you turn it all about
That's how you learn to count!
(continue singing about as many number as desired)

  • Cut enough paper strips to make a number chain for the days of the month. During group time each day, add a link to represent the passage of time.
  • Follow the Teacher: At group time, provide the directions containing a number. For example, 1 jump, 2 hops, 3 leaps, 4 tiptoe steps, etc.
  • Hop and Count: While outside, have child hop in place and count while s/he hops. How many hops did each child make hopping on both feet? Have each child hop on his/her right foot. Count together. How many hops were made? Do the other foot and count together. Ask each child which foot s/he hopped less.
  • Counting Off (1-10) Game:  Have children stand in a circle and count off to the pre-selected number (draw number from cards). The child who says the last number in the sequence sits down. The next child begins with one and the last child in the sequence sits down again, etc. The children go around the circle, shipping over those sitting down. At last there will be only one child standing. He/she draws the card for the next game.