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Counting Circles

Alignments to Content Standards: K.CC.A.1


Have students stand and form a circle facing in toward each other.

Select a counting sequence to be practiced with no more than 8-10 numbers in the sequence.

Have the students start counting around the circle one by one until the last number in the sequence is reached.

When the last number is reached all students clap and that student is out and sits down on the floor in the middle of the circle.

Start the counting sequence over again until another student reaches the number at the end of the sequence; everyone claps and that student sits in the center with the first student.

Continue repeating the sequence until only one child is left standing and the rest are seated in the center of the circle. For example: for the counting sequence 1-10: the first student says "one," the next student says "two" and so on until the 10th students gets to "ten" at this point everyone claps and the tenth child sits in the center of the circle. The eleventh student starts over with "one" and so on.

IM Commentary

  • It is important to keep the counting moving quickly and smoothly, thus keeping the sequence to only ten numbers is key. If a student struggles, he or she will need support; either the teacher can give the number name to the student or can provide a written record that students can refer to. The idea is not for the student to figure out the counting sequence but to hear it and practice it repeatedly in a facile manner.

  • English Language Learners will often have trouble with the articulation of the "teen" numbers saying 50 for fifteen, 60 for sixteen, 70 for seventeen, etc. so practice within this specific range is useful to emphasize the proper articulation of these number names.

  • Practicing counting sequences going backward is a particularly important skill to develop that later supports student development with subtraction and often cause difficulty for children. It is critical to play this and other such games using backward number sequences after students have developed facility going forward.

  • A trouble spot students often run into when counting forward is crossing from one family into the next family, i.e. "crossing the decade." Students will leave out the decade number for example, "27, 28, 29, 31" or will give an entirely different family for example, "27, 28, 29, 90." Focusing on these short sequences to help them cross the decade can be helpful.


Possible counting sequences for forward counting: the ones (1-10), the teens (10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19), and "crossing the decade" (15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, or similarly 26-34, 35-44 etc.).

Possible counting sequences for backward counting: the ones (10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1) or similarly the teens, 20-11 or any crossing the decade sequences going backward.