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Counting Overview

Alignments to Content Standards: K.CC.B


This standard asks students to count with automaticity and meaning, and to be able to record their findings. Lastly, students need to be able to compare two numbers. The most engaging way to practice counting with students is to have them count meaningful things in their lives. Since five-year-olds are very focused on themselves this is easily done by allowing them to count themselves, their friends and objects within the classroom that relate to their daily lives.

Some ideas of things to count:

  • The number of students in the class.

  • The number of girls, boys, kids with short, medium and long hair, kids with tie shoes, slip on shoes, boots or sandals.

  • The number of tables in the classroom, the number of chairs in the classroom, the number of books in the book corner, the number of pencils at any one table, the number of pencils in the classroom.

  • The number of kids whose favorite recess game is the slide vs. the swing. The number of students who love to run vs skip.

There are many possibilities!

IM Commentary

When students are first learning to count, choose sets of objects with smaller numbers; as they gain more skill, choose sets of objects with larger numbers. Students can take turns recording their findings on the classroom whiteboard, or can use their own lap whiteboards, or some other material such as paper. Students should compare numbers and sets of objects that they count. This should be done daily, in whole-group settings as well as when the student is working independently or in a small group. They should also be given opportunities to count outside of math time; for example, the number of words they can read from a list, how many pages in their writing journal they have written on, how many pages are left, how many class points the class currently has, etc.

Students should also be guided in the progression from counting concrete objects to more difficult counting tasks like how many times the teacher claps hands or how many notes are played on the piano. The students should also be asked to perform tasks a certain number of times, like "jump three times."

Students can survey the class about different questions and record their findings. At home students can survey their family about questions that interest them: favorite ice cream flavor, favorite day of the week, favorite dinner food, or any question that is interesting to the child.

The most important part is that children are counting things that matter to them, and that they practice often.