Counting On Up

Standard Met: CCSS.Math.Content.K.CC.A.2

Objective: Counting on by starting at a given number

What You Need: Large sticky notes (optional: fun-shape notes), marker, chart paper

What to Do: Counting on, a mental math strategy in which you start from a given number and add on to it, is an important skill to learn. Kindergarten teacher Greg Smedley-Warren, from Nashville, Tennessee, finds that this can be a tough skill to master, requiring “something concrete to help students understand and practice.”

Before the lesson, prepare a giant number line by writing one number on each sticky note, from 1 to 20. For more advanced learners, you may create a longer number line, from 1 to 30, or beyond. Place these sticky notes on the floor in order, about five inches apart (or as far as your classroom will allow).

Begin the lesson by discussing how to count on. Practice a few examples aloud (e.g., counting from 6 to 11), and use a smaller number line on chart paper to model how to count on by jumping from one number to the next. Then, model counting on using the sticky note number line.

When you feel students are ready, have them take turns finding a given number on the giant number line, and then stand on the number and count on to solve a problem. Count on aloud as a class while the individual student steps from one number to the next. Challenge older kids to try counting backward.

You may even have students consider counting on to solve addition problems. For example, if a student starts at 5 and counts on to get to 9, write 5 + __ = 9, and put a 4 in the blank when the problem is solved.

This lesson not only gets students to visualize and practice counting on, it also gets them “up and moving around and learning number recognition,” says Smedley-Warren, whose Instagram is @kindergartensmorgasboard.

Tossing Tens

Standard Met: CCSS.Math.Content.1.NBT.B.2.C

Objective: Recognize the correspondence between 1 and 9 and each number’s multiple of 10 (10, 20, 30, etc.)

What You Need: Bean bags, paper plates, marker, tape

What to Do: Turn number learning into field play by creating a beanbag toss that teaches students how to count by tens.

Prepare by writing the numerals 1 through 9 on paper plates. Then, clear a good-size space in your classroom (or plan to host the activity in the gymnasium or an outdoor area).

Before you start the game, arrange the paper plates in a circle, creating enough space in the center for a student to stand and toss the beanbag onto the plates with some accuracy. Tape the plates to the ground to keep them from shuffling or moving during the game.

Explain to students that they will be playing a game where they’ll be counting by tens by tossing beanbags onto numbered plates. Model the rules of the game by showing them how to toss a beanbag onto a plate and count.

Standing in the center of the circle, look at the numbers thoughtfully. Choose a number to aim at and say it out loud. Then, gently toss the beanbag onto that paper plate. State the number it has landed on and say how many sets of 10 the number represents and what that equals. For example, if the beanbag lands on the plate numbered with a 4, tell students, “Four sets of 10 equals 40.”

Next, tell students it is their turn. Have them take two to three turns each. Feel free to arrange multiple sets of the game if you’d like to give students more time to explore or if you have a large class.

If students need help visualizing the concept of multiples of 10, consider using craft sticks and rubber bands to make the idea concrete. Have children make bunches of 10 craft sticks and fasten each with a rubber band. Then, explain that one bunch is 10, two are 20, and so on.   

Bingo Math

Standards Met: CCSS.Math.Content.K.CC.A.2; K.CC.A.3

Objective: Write numbers up to 20, and solve simple problems by counting on

What You Need: Blank 4-by-4-array bingo boards, number lines, counters or bingo chips, chart paper, markers

What to Do: There’s nothing like a rousing game of bingo to engage kids in a lesson on numbers. But this one ups the challenge—it involves not only numbers to look for but equations to calculate!

To begin, review how to count on to reach an answer to a math problem. Then, using a number line, show students examples, such as starting at 8 and going up five numbers to reach 13. Record the resulting equation (8 + 5 = 13) on chart paper. Repeat as needed.

When students are clear about how to count on, model setting up a bingo board as follows: Choose and write in 16 numbers between 1 and 20 in random squares on the board. Explain that students will need to cover four in a row to win. Then have them set up their individual bingo boards.

Tell students they will be playing bingo in a special way. Instead of marking the board if they have a number that is called, they will be figuring out each number as a counting-on problem. For example, if the number is 6, you may say, “Count up four from the number 2.” Have students use their number lines to find the answer. Ask for a volunteer, and then write the answer on chart paper with the corresponding equation (2 + 4 = 6). If they have the number 6 on their board, they should cover it with a counter. Check boards for accuracy.

For an added challenge, consider having students create bingo boards with higher numbers or come up with their own counting-on equations. You may also want to create a 5-by-5 board to accommodate more numbers.

Jigsaw Counting

Standard Met: CCSS.Math.Content.1.NBT.A.1

Objective: Arrange numbers in order from 1 to 120

What You Need: Hundreds charts (numbered 1 to 120), crayons, scissors

What to Do: Former kindergarten and second-grade Seattle teacher Malia Hollowell finds that hundreds charts “are a simple, hands-on way to help kids build number sense.” This activity transforms standard hundreds charts into fun puzzles.

Hollowell, whose Instagram is @playdough2plato, uses hundreds charts that go up to 120. Why 120? Hollowell points out that “it can be confusing for new mathematicians to understand the patterns that happen after the number 100 if they don’t see them.”

Hollowell cut the hundreds charts into jigsaw pieces for students to put together in order. But you may want to consider having students create their own puzzles, as follows.

Students examine the charts for patterns they can mark with crayons. For example, you could suggest they skip-count by twos and underline those numbers. (Point out that counting by twos is the same as marking all even numbers.) Alternately, have children do the same by skip-counting by fives and tens and marking their charts accordingly. Extend the activity by skip-counting by threes, fours, etc. They can also color in the boxes, as well as underline the numbers.

Once students have marked up patterns, have them cut their charts into pieces for a partner to put together. Encourage them to be creative in the way they cut jigsaw pieces.

You may also consider creating a few puzzles that vary the level of difficulty. Hollowell cut her charts in different ways to help students “practice matching numbers in a variety of ways.” For example, she cut some in vertical columns and some in horizontal rows, which made the puzzles easier to assemble. You may want to laminate a few of the charts to keep in your classroom all year round.

Photo: Courtesy of Greg Smedley-Warren

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