Towers, Towers, Towers 1 - 5

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I can show I understand numbers 1 - 5 by building towers with that many blocks. I understand that when I count, each number is one more than the one before.

Big Idea

Children develop a true sense of number by working with real things. In this lesson, kindergarteners use blocks to build towers, learning what numbers 1-5 mean.

Calendar & Daily Counting Practice

20 minutes

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

Calendar Time:

My class does calendar on  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 and the procedure is described in detail in the resources.

Counting with online sources:

We do daily counting practice to reinforce the counting skills. In the first two to three weeks of school, we watch two to three number recognition 0-10 videos (one to two minutes each) until all students can identify numbers correctly in random order. Depending on time, we may watch "Shawn the Train" and count objects with him. I may also choose to rotate songs, videos and counting depending on time and skill needs. As the students become more proficient at counting and number identification, I begin to add additional skills such as counting to 20 forward and back, counting by tens to 100 and counting to 100 by ones.


5 minutes

For this activity, we review our Bubble Maps of numbers 0-5.

We simply view them and read through each of them which leads us to thinking about counting, what numbers represent (quantity) and that gets us thinking about the visual representation of the numbers 1-5.


20 minutes

One of the Common Core standards for kindergarten is understanding that when counting by ones, each number is one greater than the number before it and one less than the number after it. This activity helps develop the conceptual understanding of that concept by making it visual. This is what the activity looks like:

First I show the students the tower cards and explain how they will be used.

Next I demonstrate how to create the towers and I think out loud telling how I build each one. Each tower has one more cube than the one before.  

Me: How many cubes are in my first tower?

Kids: One!

Me: I'm going to build a tower of two. (I build the tower) Look, this tower is one cube taller than the first tower I built. So that means 2 is one more than 1. That would make sense because that's how I count, 1, 2.

I continue with that pattern for all five towers. Then I put my towers in order and push them together into a staircase and say, "Wow! this looks like stairs. I can see that each tower is one greater than the tower before it." Then we count the towers together.

Me: This is how I check my work. If any of the "steps" were more or less than one more, I have to recount that tower.

Now it's your turn to build number towers 1-5.

**I roam the room while the kids build the towers. If I see someone with an incorrect set of towers, I have them push the towers together in order and I walk through it with them making sure each tower is one greater than the tower before it.


5 minutes

I bring the students back together on the floor and have volunteers share their experience with this activity. I ask how they feel about it, if they feel successful and what they learned. We draw a picture of the steps (towers) touching to clarify the expectation that each tower they built should have been one more than the one before if they followed directions and built them in consecutive order as asked. The kids really grasp this concept and are very successful with this activity.

Exit Ticket

5 minutes

The towers themselves are the exit ticket. I ask the students to save their towers and raise their hands as they finish. I walk around with my clipboard and provide feedback to the kids. I note on my observation notes who was successful and who struggled and in what way they struggled. I pull the strugglers to the floor the next day while the rest of the class attempt towers 6-10.