Counting Strategies - All (review circle, array, scatter)

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SWBAT use a variety of strategies to count objects in three different physical settings.

Big Idea

Kindergarteners often struggle with keeping track of objects while they count. This lesson shows kids different strategies to keep track of objects while they count.

Daily Calendar & Counting Review

20 minutes

Each day we begin our math block with an interactive online calendar followed by counting songs and videos.

Calendar Time:

We do calendar on Starfall every afternoon.  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. A detailed description of Daily Calendar math is included in the resources.

Counting with online sources: Today we did counting practice to reinforce the counting skills. We watched two to three number recognition 0-10 videos (one to two minutes each) because some of my students students were still struggling with identifying numbers correctly in random order. We watched "Shawn the Train" and counted objects with him to refresh our memories on how to count objects to ten and to reinforce one to one counting. Since we have started the second quarter of the school year, we added to today's counting practice: counting to 20 forward and back, counting by tens to 100 and counting to 100 by ones to get a jump on our end of the year goals.

Direct Instruction

15 minutes

Keeping track of objects while counting is a challenge for kindergarteners. This lesson encourages the students to share their ideas of how to keep track of things while counting objects in different presentations.

I used an Powerpoint to teach this lesson on the ActivBoard. If you do not have ActiveBoard, you could use the PowerPoint presentation projected onto white butcher paper or use a doc cam using a printed version of the PowerPoint.

I first read a counting book (Every Buddy Counts from Envisions math kit) but any counting book to ten or twenty would work. We count the objects in the book together while I touch each object. This gets their brains focused on counting and warms them up for the lesson.

I tell the kids, "Today we are going to review how keep track of objects that we are counting in a circle, array, and scatter. We are going to share are ideas, or strategies, with all of our friends." I open the Powerpoint and ask, how could I count these objects without losing track of what I've counted or without counting an object twice? The first set of objects are arranged in a circle.

I first choose a medium-high student to share their idea because I know they may be able to lead others to a clear understanding of the question and appropriate strategic thinking. I do not choose a high student first because they usually take the reigns and leave nothing for the other students to think about. I purposely want to leave room for probing questions and deeper thinking.

Once we finish the Powerpoint, I take a box of counting cubes and grab a handful. I ask the kids how we could count how many blocks I have in my hands. A student suggests that I move them and set them on a table as I count them. I demonstrate her thinking with her guidance.


10 minutes

Activity:  I pass out sandwich bags of cubes to each student (making sure each student at each table have a different color bag of blocks so they can't mix them up). I ask the students to close their eyes and grab a handful of blocks. They lay the blocks on the table in front of them and are asked to move the blocks while counting each item.

Note:We do this to get the feel for counting and moving objects when possible. The objects are not necessarily arranged in circles, but students need to understand that counting objects by moving them when possible is a viable option. We practice this for about 10 minutes.

I roam the room to check on the accuracy of counting. I carry a clipboard with an observational notes page on it to record any concerns I may see.

After about 10 minutes I have the kids clean up the materials and I then have them practice counting objects in various arrangements on a page. We do the first two together. I place my copy of the page under the doc cam.

I have them do the rest on their own, or as table teams helping each other.


10 minutes

I have the kids gather back on the floor to discuss what we learned about counting today. The focus of the discussion is the strategies that the kids used to count objects that are arranged in a circle. 

I ask them the two open-ended questions that I always ask:

1) What did you learn from this activity?

2) What can we do to make this activity better?

One student talked about how she liked crossing the objects off as she counted. Another one liked numbering them because it helped her remember how many she counted.

For improving the activity, the kids suggested that we use stickers to line a circle on a piece of paper and then count how many we used. Not a bad idea. I might just get them some stickers!

Exit Ticket

10 minutes

I give the students a counting page that has objects arranged in all three formats. I instruct the students to use strategies that were demonstrated during the direct instruction and practiced during the activity (crossing out, numbering on the objects, numbering above or below the objects). I ask them to also write the number of objects they count in each box (number conservation).
I collect the pages and check for efficient use of strategies and counting accuracy.

I collect the pages as they finish and I sort the pages into three groups. The groups are Meets (no errors), Approaches (1 to 2 errors), Falls Far Below (3 or more errors).