The Reading Challenge: What Number Comes Before

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Students will be able to tell what number comes before a given number.

Big Idea

This fun lesson introduces an important skill. Telling what number comes before a given number is a foundational skill for subtracting.


10 minutes

To begin this lesson, you will need a copy of the book, The Reading Challenge.  I print the book on a colored printer and laminate the pages for durability  I bind the book with a comb binder.  You will need an erasable marker for the students to record their answers in the book. 

I gather the students by my big chair and say to them, The title of our story is The Reading Challenge.  Do you know what a challenge is?  That's right.  It's kind of like a competition.  So, if we know that a challenge is a competition, what do you think this book is about?  (I listen to the students' responses).  You are making a prediction that this story is about students being in a reading competition.  Let's read and see if your prediction is correct (I like to weave literary skills into math whenever possible).

Page 1:  The kids in Mrs. Hopper’s kindergarten have been given a challenge.  Mrs. Hopper wants them to read one book every day.

Page 2:  Let’s find out how they are doing!  Bart read 7 books by Tuesday.  If he reads one book a day, what was his total number of books read the day before?  I invite a student to come up and write the answer in the book.  We check the students work by counting from that number. 

Page 3: How about Becky?  She is reading a book a day too.  She has read 9 books. How many had she read by the day before?  Another student come up with the class checking. 

Page 4-5:  Continue as above. 

Page 6:  That’s a lot of books!!!  Ava, I think you should get down from there.  The class gets very excited.  They are saying the books are going to fall.  I say, So you are predicting the books will fall?

Page 7:  A-CHOO  I ask the students, Was your prediction correct?

Page 8: Why does this keep happening to me?  

We discuss the students predictions about what the story was about and the prediction that made at the end of the book.  We then move over to the SMART Board for direct instruction time. 

Direct Instruction

15 minutes

For this portion of the lesson, I use the What Comes Before Smart Notebook 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 file you can use to recreate this part of the lesson.

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

I open the first slide (SMART Board 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 tell what number comes before a given number 0-20.

Language Objective
I can tell a friend what number comes before a given number 0-20.

We then continue with the rest of the slides.

Slide 2:  My teacher challenged every student in our class to read one book each day.  We have had a lot of fun reading.  We also used our math skills to talk about how many books we  read. 

Slide 3:  We talked about the word "before".  We can look at a number and talk about the number that comes before.  A number line can help us!

Slide 4:  If I want to find the number that comes before 8, I can find 8 on the number line and then I move one number to the left. The number 7 comes BEFORE the number 8.  I walk through finding the number on the number line. 

Slide 5:  I can also count to figure out which number comes before.  Before I say the number 8, I say the number 7.  I demonstrate counting for the students to figure what number comes next. 

Slide 6:  Let's try some numbers and see if you can figure out what comes BEFORE.   I call a student up to the board to write in the answer.  Another student is called up to check the answer by erasing in the box.  I ask this student to explain whether they think the answer is correct or not and why before erasing.  See Video.  

Slides 7-11: Continue as above. 

Slide 12:  It is now Turn and Talk time.  My students get the opportunity to practice their math vocabulary.  Every child is partnered up with another student in the class who is their Turn and Talk partner.  They hold hands with their partner and hold them up in the air so I can check to see that everyone has a partner.  I then ask them the question, What number comes before 20?  How do you know?  The students start talking and when they are done with their discussion, I call on a student to share their answer with the class.  The student tells the class that the number 19 comes before the number 20.  I ask the student to explain how she and her partner came up with that answer.  She said they looked at the number line.  I ask the class if there is another way we could come up with the answer.  Another student shares that we can count and figure out which number we say before 20.

We go back to our tables for guided practice. 

Guided Practice

10 minutes

For this part of the lesson, you will need the Hanging Numbers 0-20 printed so that each student has a number. (I have exactly 21 students so I have the perfect number of cards.  You could make additional numbers if your class is larger.  I laminate the cards for durability.  I punch holes in the cards and run string through the holes so the students can wear the cards. 

I tell the students, We are going to practice what number comes before.  I will ask a for a number and I want the student who has that number to go in front of the class.  Then I will ask for the student who has the number that comes before that number to go and stand next to the number. 

I then ask a student to go in front of the class.  After that student is in front of the class, I ask the student who has the number that comes before to go in front of the class.  We check the students work each time.  I keep track of the numbers that are called so every student gets a chance to go in front of the class as either the initial number or the number that comes before.  We check the students' work each time.  

When we are done, I collect the numbers and we get ready for independent practice. 

Independent Practice and Informal Assessment

10 minutes

For the independent practice section of this lesson, you will need the What Comes Before activity sheet, one copy per student.  You will also need the Numbers 0-20.  I print one set of numbers for each student and place them in small brown lunch bags.  I run the sets on two different colors of paper.  When I pass them out, I make sure that students do not have the same color as their neighbors.  This keeps the cards from getting mixed up.

I pass out the materials to the students and have them put their names on their papers.  I tell them, You are going to practice figuring out what number comes next.  I want you to draw a card out of the bag and write that number on the book.  Then, I want you to write the number that comes before that number in the box.  I want you to set that number aside and draw a new number for the next problem.   I actually demonstrate how to do it, so the students understand that the number they draw is written in the second space.  This can be a little confusing if not well explained. 

The students begin and I circulate around the classroom to observe them and to monitor for any mistakes.  When they are done, I check the students' work and they put it in their mailboxes and then clean up their cards.