Thrilling Three!

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SWBAT identify, write, count, and represent the number 3.

Big Idea

Early in kindergarten, learning numbers can be overwhelming, particularly for students who have had a limited early academic background. These many and varied activities provide a lot of hands-on practice for beginning learners.

Attention Grabber/Introduction

8 minutes

“It’s time to learn all about a new number!” I exclaim.

“So what have we learned so far?” I ask.

I call on students who say, “1” and “2.”

“Let’s see them!” I suggest.

I pass a white board marker to a student, who writes a 1. 

Another student gets the marker, who writes a 2.  (The 2 looks a bit like a Z, but we are not too picky at this point in the year!)

“Yes!  We have learned 1 and 2! Who knows what comes next?!”

The students announce, “3!”

“Yes!” I affirm.  “This is the poem we say as we make 3.

“Around the tree, around the tree, that’s the way to make a 3!” I say as I write a large 3 on the white board.

We practice writing our invisible 3’s in the air.  I model, writing a large 3 backwards in the air, with students writing their 3’s at the same time.  We smile as we “erase” our numbers by waving our hands in the air.

We practice a few times, reciting the number-writing poem each time, with all of us writing our invisible 3’s in the air.  I ask a couple friends to write their 3’s on the white board, as well.

“We will practice writing 3’s, making groups of 3’s, and labeling our groups.  We have so much work to do!  Let’s get busy!” I announce.

Guided/Independent Practice

42 minutes

At the “teacher table,” we work on the All About the Number 3 page together, focusing on proper formation and matching the quantity 3.  I note key beginning of the year concepts, like starting to fill 10-frames in the upper left-hand corners.  We go through each portion of the practice together.

Of course, we also need independent practice opportunities, so one station is the free play dough practice mats, this time for number 3.  We use the same play dough number mats, rolling the play dough into snakes and placing it over the 3 printed on the play dough mat.  Next, 3 small spheres are created to place into the upper left hand corner of the ten frame on the play dough mat.  I put different colors of play dough at the table, so the students can "switch it up" while they are there.  (It's good to keep those fast finishers in mind and give them something to do.)

Bumpy Boards is another independent practice station.  Students use plastic needlepoint forms from a craft store to place under their papers to create a bumpy texture and effect.  (It's also possible to make bumpy boards using squares of masonite, screening, and duct tape to tape the screen onto the middle of the boards.  I have both in my class, but the needlepoint forms come ready to use!)  We talk about putting our papers on top of the bumpy boards to get the fun texture and then tracing over each 3 with 3 different colors.

We had so much fun with the Pete the Cat 10 frames last week that I decide to use them again this week.  To make things slightly different, I use different counters.

Since this is still new, I model how to set out the 10-frame mats, put 3 counters on each mat, write a small 3 on a label for each mat, set out the labels, and then raise my hand to silently ask for a teacher to “check off my work.”

Next, I pretend I’m counting to a teacher, touching each counter as I count aloud, “1-2-3” for each mat.  I stress one point, “You really need to touch each counter as you count.”

We work at each “job” for roughly 10 minutes, with the All About the Number table setting the pace.  (I know that one of my heterogeneous groups has a mix of slightly slower paced students than others, so I anticipate that at least 1 work period will extend to 12 minutes.) We rotate through these activities, a total of 4 in all.

Even though 2 of the jobs are technically independent, not much is really independent at the beginning of kindergarten!  I get up several times to help students struggling to count or write 3’s.


5 minutes

After a 2-minute warning, we finish our activities and gather in our meeting spot.

“Let’s go over practice today,” I begin.  “What number have we been working on?”

 I call on a student who says, “3.” 

Next, I call on a student who is talking, “What number, again?”  The little guy gets very serious and very quiet: “3,” he responds, somberly.

“Good!”  I encourage with a smile.  The little guy remains quiet and kind of serious.  “Yes!” I silently exclaim in victory over inattention.

“So… What did we do with 3?” I continue.

Students share a variety of responses, including, “With play dough!”  “With Pete the Cat!” (We just love Pete the Cat!), “We drew 3!”

I ask, “Did we write 3?” to replies of “Yes!”

I sum it all up, “So we wrote 3, showed it with play dough, drew 3, and made 3?  That’s a lot of practice with 3!”