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Start/Stop Counting II

Alignments to Content Standards: 1.NBT.A.1



Students should be seated on chairs at their tables or desks. The teacher will give a counting sequence (for example, 20-120) to the students.


Begin with the teacher walking around the room while counting aloud from a number between 1 and 20. The teacher continues to count until he/she chooses a student by patting them on the shoulder. The student and teacher switch roles, the teacher sits in the student’s chair while the student resumes the count and walks around the room. At the teacher’s signal (clap, snap, chime etc.) the student selects the nearest student and switches places with another child who continues the count. Repeat this until each child has had a turn counting. If a child reaches 120 before each child has been given a chance to count, begin the sequence over again or if the children are ready reverse the sequence.

IM Commentary

  • It is important to keep the counting moving quickly and smoothly so offering support to the students from the teacher by giving the number name to a student if they are struggling or having the whole group count with them until they can be independent is appropriate. 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 or vise versa, so it is important to emphasize and model the proper articulation of these number names.
  • Practicing the counting sequence going backward is a particularly important skill to develop in children; this supports student development with subtraction and can often pose difficulty. This activity can easily be reversed after students are facile with the forward counting sequence.
  • Another trouble spot students may encounter when counting forward is crossing from one family into the next family, i.e. “crossing the decade” and “crossing the century” from 99 to 100,101 then often “crossing the decade” again at 109-110. Students will leave out the decade number for example, “27, 28, 29, 31” or will not be able to go past 100 or go from “99, 100, 200”. Focusing on these short sequences to help them cross the decade/century can be helpful
  • Any signal used in classroom routines can be helpful to indicate to students to switch off, others such as; clapping, snapping, a clicker, a maraca/shaker can be used as well. Also students often enjoy playing this game with a play microphone that magnifies the voice and can be passed off to each player.


Any counting sequence can be selected depending on student abilities. In a first grade class 1-100 might be a starting point but this can easily be extended to 1-120 or 20-120 going forward and 100-1 going backward.