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Start-Stop Counting

Alignments to Content Standards: K.CC.A.2


Have students form a circle and sit facing in toward each other. The teacher selects a range of the number sequence to practice. Start with the teacher walking around the outside of the circle while counting aloud starting at the beginning of the selected counting sequence.

After a few moments the teacher taps a student on the head and sits in the student's spot. The student then gets up from the circle and continues the counting at the point that the teacher left off while walking around the outside of the circle.

At the teacher’s signal the student who is counting selects the nearest student to them by tapping them on the head to take over counting and sits in that student’s spot. The next child then continues the counting sequence until the teacher indicates a change and so on until each child has had a turn. If the class reaches the end of the counting sequence before each child has participated simply start the sequence over again.

This is similar to Duck, Duck, Goose but without the chasing to get to a spot.

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 students. 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" so may need support in this area. Teaching students to count by tens and then use that strategy to find the next family can be helpful.

  • Any signal used in classroom routines (such as clapping, snapping, or using a clicker or a maraca/shaker) can be helpful to indicate to the student that it is time to tap the next student. Also students often enjoy playing this game with a play microphone that magnifies the voice and can be passed off to the next player.


Any counting sequence can be selected depending on student abilities. In a kindergarten class 1-20 or 30 might be a starting point but this can easily be extended to 1-100 going forward and 50-1 going backward.