How Do We Write Numbers? - Writing 1, 2, & 3

Print Lesson


Students will be able to name, count and write numbers 1, 2, and 3.

Big Idea

The Cheerios Counting Book illustrates a group for each number from 1 to 100.

Problem of the Day

5 minutes

I start the lesson with a problem of the day to help students review skills and concepts from prior lessons and develop their ability to problem solve.  I call the students up to the carpet. The students find their spots while saying this chant with me.

Criss cross, applesauce, hands in your lap, eyes on the teacher, you've got to show me that.

I project the Problem of the Day on the SMARTBoard and say to students, "This is our Problem of the Day for today.  This says 'Match the numbers to the correct group.  Draw a picture to match the remaining number.'"  I say, "This problem has two parts.  What is the first thing it asks us to do?"  (Match the numbers to the correct group.)  I have a student come up, count the books and drag the correct number into the box.  I have another student come up, count the pencils and drag the correct number into the box.  "Listen to the direction again.  'Match the numbers to the correct group.  Draw a picture to match the remaining number.'  What do we need to do next?"  (Draw a picture to match the remaining number.)  I have a student come up, drag the number 3 into the remaining box and draw a picture of three objects.  I let the student select what they would like to draw, but I suggest a simple shape.  I tell students that when we are drawing in math, we need to keep our pictures simple.  I say this because sometimes students get too focused on how to draw a certain picture and forget the math skill that they are working on.

If you don't have a SMARTBoard, you can use the pdf copy of the slides in a variety of ways to reproduce this activity.

I tell students, "Today we will keep learning about numbers.  We are going to learn to write the numbers 1, 2 and 3."

Presentation of Lesson

25 minutes

I draw 1 dot on a white board and ask students to count the dot with me.  I then write the number 1 on the board.  I tell students, "This is a number 1."  I continue with numbers 2 and 3.  I tell students that we will be reading a story today called The Cheerios Counting Book.  I use this book because it has large numerals on the pages.  It is also easy to count the Cheerios on each page. During the first 3 pages of the story, I stop to have the students count how many Cheerios are in the picture and name the number.  I hold up the book so that all of the students can see the number and draw it with their finger in the air.  When I see that a student has drawn it in the air, I hand the student that many Cheerios to count and taste.  I continue to read the rest of the story as a preview of other numbers and for the students to enjoy.

I tell students that we will be practicing the numbers 1, 2 and 3 on a Writing Numbers 1, 2, and 3 worksheet.  I show students the paper and say, "We will be working on this paper together.  You need to get out your pencil and put your name on your paper.  When your name is on your paper hold your pencil in the air, that will let me know that you are ready to start."  I like to have students hold up their pencils or put their hands on their heads when they are finished with a task.  It makes it easy for me to see who is ready and also keeps the students from writing all over their papers while they wait for other students to finish.  I hand each student a paper for them to take back to their seats and while the students are writing their names, I turn on the projector and document camera and display the worksheet on the SMARTBoard.  When all students have their pencils up, I say, "The directions on this paper say ‘Count the objects.  Trace and write the number.'  Put your pencil point on the smiley face.  Point to it as we count together.  How many smiley faces are there?"  I call on a student who is raising a quiet hand.  I have the student come up and point to the smiley face as they count aloud.  I then model how to write the number 1.  I say this rhyme as I write it "Straight line down and then you're done. That's the way to make a one."  The rhymes I use to write the numbers I learned from another teacher, and they work great to help the students remember how to write the numbers.  I continue this with the questions about the stars and the hearts.  When modeling the number 2, I say, "Around and back on a railroad track. TWO! TWO!"  When modeling the number 3, I say, "Around a tree and around a tree, that's the way to make a three."  When we are finished, I say, "The next set of directions says, 'Count the objects.  Write the number.'  You may finish the paper on your own."  When they are finished, they put their papers into the paper tray in the front of the classroom and get their center.


20 minutes

Since the students finish their papers at different times, I circulate through the room to make sure that students are completing their papers, putting it in the tray and getting their centers.  This week's centers are:

Sorting Fruits and Flowers  (
Sorting by Size and Counting with Bears (Download mat from  I cut off the smallest bear since the bears I have are only two sizes.)
Thumb Print Counting
Number Tracing ( 
SMART Board- Online Game Critter Junction (Macmillan/McGraw-Hill)

I quickly circulate to make sure students are engaged and do not have any questions about how to complete the centers.   I pull three groups during centers.  I pull the first group for 10 minutes and the other two groups for 5 minutes each.  The first group is comprised of the students who were having trouble identifying numbers 1,2, and 3 and matching the numbers to objects.  I have a basic idea of who I want in each group based on my beginning of the year assessment on numbers and counting, but I also take into account how the students did in the whole group lesson.  I pull the students back to my small group table to do a reteach activity using flash cards and manipulatives (for this lesson I used animal counters).  I show the flash cards and have students practice identifying the numbers.  I then give each student a pile of manipulatives (1-3) and have them pick the number card that matches their group.  Today I use Giant Tracing Numbers from Lakeshore that the students can trace on with a dry erase maker.   The next two groups do a follow up activity that reviews identifying numbers, counting objects.  I use the flash cards and manipulatives with these groups as well.  I start by showing the students flash cards again and having them practice identifying the numbers.  I do this much quicker for these groups.  I then give each student a pile of manipulatives (1-3) and have them write the number on a white board.  Prior to clean up, I check in with each table to see how the centers are going.  I turn on Tidy Up by Dr. Jean

There are many wonderful transition songs to be found, for free, online if you'd like to use music for transitions too.

Students clean up and return to their seats.


5 minutes

I close this lesson by inviting students back up to the carpet.  I turn on the SMARTBoard and let one of the students who did well writing 1, 2, and 3 come up and show us how to write a 1, 2 and 3. As they write, I have the other students say the number rhymes with me.  I mention positive things that I noticed during centers.  I also include something that needs to be better next time.  I review what we did during our whole group lesson.  "Today we learned how to write the numbers 1, 2, and 3. How do we remember how to write a 1?    (A straight line down is lots of fun, thats because it's number one.)  "A 2?"   (Around and back on a railroad track. TWO! TWO!)  "A 3?" Around a tree and around a tree, that's the way to make a three.  "Let's count to 3 together."  1, 2, 3  "Tomorrow, we are going to continue practicing how to write the numbers 1, 2 and 3.”