It's the week before Spring Break, and we are having so much fun with the concept of ordering numbers. We work as a group to order green foam, die-cut shamrocks with numbers written on them. Children are happy and busy to be part of the process. so one at a time, students are contributing the shamrock with the next number in our count sequence. We are working as a team, with planned movement and teamwork.
Finally, we double check our teamwork, pointing to the numbers and counting aloud from 1 to 20.
Students are excited to create leprechaun ladders with shamrock shapes, so our mysterious leprechaun visitors could climb up our ladders and get around our classroom better. (Leprechauns have been mischievous but generous all week, tipping over our chairs one morning, but leaving fun shamrock printed pencils the next morning. We love leprechauns! We are sure that we can catch a leprechaun and make him take us to his pot of gold, and the longer we can get our mysterious leprechaun buddies to stay in Room 6, the better.
I present a bunch of die-cut shamrock shapes in two shades of green, (although the two shades aren't critical). The shamrocks are blank, and I challenge the kiddos to begin counting and labeling at a number different than 1--I ask if they can do it. Students nod their heads, and I have them help me count the numbers starting at 11 while I write one number on each shamrock. As we get going, I pass the pencil to my helper of the day, who happily writes a "15" on the shamrock as we get to 15. I make a point to note that my helper doesn't write a 5 and then a 1, and I ask students to explain why that matters. One student adeptly notes that a 5 and a 1 would be "51," which is more than I expect to hear, but we take a moment to note the way that all teen numbers look, with a 1 first, and then a different numeral in the ones place. We show and discuss the pattern in our teen number writing: 1-first, followed by a different digit (MP.7).
After our numbers 11-20 are written on shamrocks, I model how to string the shamrocks in order, beginning at our first teen number, 11. We use our green yarn with the straw "anchor" and we string straws in between the individual shamrocks, being careful to place a straw in between each shamrock. As we move along on our demonstration ladder, we take a moment to double-check our excellent ordering, again confirming that all of our numbers are in order (MP.6)
The students can't wait to get started, and I circulate around the classroom carefully, carefully asking students clarifying questions, like "What's your first number?" followed by, "Is it hard to begin counting with numbers bigger than zero? When students string numbers out of sequence, I make a point to ask questions to help the students correct their own errors (MP. 6). We are careful in our ladder construction to write our numbers correctly and in sequential order.
Some students really struggle with fine motor skills, and honestly, I try to team them up with fast finishers to help coach them with their stringing. This way, I can focus on helping students with correct number formation and sequencing. We can take a moment to have students count their ladders or discuss their numbers on shamrocks, noticing the structure of the teen numbers (MP.7) or how nicely the students write the numbers (MP.6).
The students are so pleased with their leprechaun ladders. They ask if they can leave their ladders around the classroom so that we can catch leprechauns. A few students display and discuss their ladders, modeling counting from 11 (MP.4). We talk about the tricky part of the activity, and even though some students were a little confused about ordering the shamrocks, the students note that the stringing the shamrocks was a challenge for some. No one actually notes writing the numbers or beginning at a number different than zero, so I bring it up. After I ask the counting question that the kiddos just missed, students really insist that starting counting at 11 was not nearly as tricky as stringing up the shamrocks? Have we gotten so much practice with teen numbers that sequencing and counting from a number other than zero is no problem? Well, for most of us, we could answer with a solid "Yes!" and even our friends who needed extra support were able to get practice and feedback to help as we gain skills and confidence.