Each day we begin our math block with an interactive online calendar followed by counting songs and videos.
My class does calendar on Starfall.com. This website has free reading and math resources for primary teachers. It also has a “more” option that requires paying a yearly fee. The calendar use is free. I've given a longer description of how I use it in my classroom in the resources.
Counting with online sources:
We do daily counting practice to reinforce the counting skills. In the first two to three weeks of school, we watch two to three number recognition 0-10 videos (one to two minutes each) until all students can identify numbers correctly in random order.
Depending on time, we may watch "Shawn the Train" and count objects with him. I may also choose to rotate songs, videos and counting depending on time and skill needs. As the students become more proficient at counting and number identification, I begin to add additional skills such as counting to 20 forward and back, counting by tens to 100 and counting to 100 by ones.
First we counted to 10 using our fingers. Then I showed the kids the dice. We practiced counting the dots on one dice. (I've put a list of Materials, as well as set up, in the resources.)
I do this because it activates prior knowledge and gets the kids thinking about numbers and quantities.
The Counting Begins!
I begin by introducing and explaining the objective to my students. It is imperative that the students understand what they are being expected to be able to do and how they are going to do it. I have the students repeat to me what the goal of the activity is. I also have them repeat the goal throughout the activity. I say, “The goal today is for each of you to be able to count out a group of objects to match the number of dots on the dice."
The kids need to realize that the goal is to learn how to count objects and represent quantities accurately, not how to roll a dice or play a game. If they buy into the actual goal, they focus on the skill better and strive for the right kind of success.
I demonstrate for the students how to roll the dice, count the dots on the dice and then place a cube on each of the dots. I explain to the kids that I need to count the cubes to check my work and make sure that I count correctly.
I then ask the students what the goal for today is. I randomly pull sticks from the stick jar for “volunteers” to answer. I look for answers like “use the dice to count things,” “count out the number of things on the dice,” “count how many.” I allow them to make brief, but accurate statements and will probe for more, “And how are we going to do that today?” I then have them state the I Can statement, “I can recognize, count and write the number of objects shown on a dice.”
I clearly state procedures before we begin any activity. For this activity, I state the following:
Hands stay in your lap until I ask you to touch the bags of blocks and the dice.
The blocks are to be used for counting today ONLY. They are not for building.
The blocks MUST stay on your table. I should not see any blocks on the floor during this activity.
We then take our activity oath while raising our right hands, “I promise to keep my hands in my lap until my teachers says. I promise to keep the blocks on my table. I promise to use my tools appropriately. I promise to do my best work.”
I then pass out the bags of blocks or tubs of blocks along with a dice while I have student helpers pass out white boards, dry erase markers and wipe-off cloths. Once all the materials have been passed out, we begin the activity.
Guided: For the first few rounds, I guide them step by step through the activity. I designate who will roll first at each table and then address by name each consecutive student per table until every student has had at least one turn. I carefully monitor by roaming the room to make sure everyone has the correct number of objects on their card and they have written the number correctly on their board. Since they are accustomed to drawing the number of blocks with the number I encourage them to continue that habit with this game. The table friends are coached to help a friend if they see them miscount or write the number inaccurately.
Independent: Now that we have practiced a few rounds, I direct them to play independently. I continue to roam the room and mediate or correct.
Rationale: This kind of activity is important because it encourages the kids to follow multi-step instructions as well as reinforces a specific skill in a fun way.
For this activity, I do not provide a specific exit ticket. Instead, I have each student demonstrate rolling the dice, counting the dots, and recording their work on the white board. I use an Observation Notes Recording Sheet to record any concerns I see.
We close by gathering on the floor, and we have a discussion about their experiences playing the game. I ask them if they learned anything new and if they enjoyed the game. The kids make some nice observations and even suggest that I use a variety of dice sizes in the future.