Pick Up Sticks: Working with Tally Marks

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Student will be able to represent numbers with tally marks.

Big Idea

Tally marks are a great way for students to practice skip counting and counting on from a given number. They will have fun "picking up sticks" with this interactive lesson!


10 minutes

For this part of the lesson, you will need the book, Pick Up Sticks Skip.  I print the book on a colored printer and laminate the pages.  The book can be bound with a comb binder or book rings or it can be stapled.  If the pages are laminated, you will need an erasable marker for the students to record answers in the book.

I gather the students around my big chair and say to them, Have any of you ever played the game, Pick Up Sticks?  When I was your age, my sister and I used to play it all the time.  (I actually have a Pick Up Sticks canister that I show the students.  We talk about how to play the game. I do this to help the students see how I can make a connection to a text I am reading.  This is an important literary skill.).  After this discussion, we continue with book. I read the book to the students.

Page 1: Hello!  My Name is Ted E. Bear and I like to pick up sticks.  I want to figure out how many sticks I have.  Can you help me count them?

Page 2:  Can you tell me how many sticks there are? I invite a student to come up and count the sticks on this page.  I do not instruct the student how to count them as a group.  I want the students to make the connection between the individual sticks and counting them as a group during the direct instruction portion of the lesson.  

Page 3:  How many sticks are there here?  I continue inviting students up to count the sticks on each page.  

Page 4:  Do you know how many sticks I have here?

Page 5:  Can you count these?

Page 6:  That was some great counting.  Here’s another stick for my collection.  Put the hunter down! Well, he’s as skinny as a stick! (A few students laugh at my attempt at humor on the last page).  

After we finish the story, we move over to the SMART Board to continue our lesson.  

Direct Instruction

15 minutes

For this portion of the lesson, I use the Reading Tally Marks SMARTBoard file.  If you have a different type of interactive whiteboard, you can still use this lesson by opening the file in Smart Notebook Express.  There is also a PDF you can use to recreate this part of the lesson.

I gather my students in front of the SmartBoard.  I have cards with each student's name on.  These cards are used for selecting who will come up to the Smartboard.

I open the first slide (SMARTBoard Slide 1) with the lesson objective written in "student friendly" terms.  There is a content objective and a language objective to help focus on vocabulary expansion for my English Learners (ELs) to be congruent with SIOP instructional techniques. I read these objectives aloud for my students.

Content Objective
I can count tally marks and determine the number they show.

Language Objective
I can tell a friend what number a group of tally marks shows.

We then continue with the rest of the slides.

Slide 2:  Remember me?  I am Ted. E. Bear.  I like to collect sticks.

Slide 3:  I want to know how many sticks I have.  This pile looks like it would be tough to count.

Slide 4: I can organize my sticks.  Let's count each stick in the group.

Slide 5:  So I know there are 5 sticks in the group. Could we figure out an easier way to count them?

Slide 6:  What if we used what we know about skip counting?  There are five sticks in a group.  Could we count by fives?  I demonstrate for the students how to count by 5s. 

Slide 7: Can you count these?  I invite a student to come up to the board and count the sticks.  I make sure the student counts aloud for the entire class to hear.  We then count the sticks as a group so the whole class gets practice.  

Slide 8-16:  Continue as above.  

Slide 17:  My class now has Turn and Talk Time.  My students hold hands with their assigned Turn and Talk partner so I know that everyone has a partner.  I then ask them the question on the slide:  My friend counted these sticks and said he has 19.  How did he do?  The students begin to talk about the question.  When I can tell the conversations are done, I bring the class back together and ask a group to share their answer.  The student explains that the answer cannot be 19 because the groups are all groups of five sticks, so it has to be twenty.  The student records the answer and we all count together.  I say, There are twenty tally marks.  I have the class repeat the sentence to reinforce the academic vocabulary.  

The students move to their seats and we begin our guided practice. 

Guided Practice

10 minutes

For this portion of the lesson, you will need the Tally Mark Activity Cards.  I print one set of cards for my class and cut them apart.

I pass out the cards to the students.  They will either have a number card or a tally mark card.  I tell them that they need to circulate among the group and find the card that matches theirs.  If I have the number 17, I need to find a card that has 17 tally marks. 

The students are excited to get started.  I have them circulate and find their partner.  They need to count the tallies for me when they find their partner.  I have them exchange cards several times so they get lots of practice with the tallies marks. 

After several exchanges, I collect the cards and we prepare for Independent Practice. 

Independent Practice and Informal Assessment

15 minutes

For the independent practice section of this lesson, you will need the Counting Tally Marks Activity Sheet

I distribute the activity sheet to the students and have write their name at the top of the paper.  I say to the students, You have been doing a great job with tally marks.  Now I want to see how you can do on your own.  I want you to cut the numbers at the bottom of the sheet and match them to the correct tally marks.  Please wait to glue down the pieces until I have checked your work. 

The students begin the activity sheet.  I observe their work and provide assistance as needed.  I check the students work and talk them through correcting mistakes. The students put the sheet in their mailboxes after they have completed their work.