Featured Topic: Counting Objects
Kindergarten students often count objects, practicing one-to-one correspondence and learning to associate a written numeral with the spoken number. This is often a challenge for some students who need additional practice to develop this important skill.
It is developmentally appropriate to use real objects rather than worksheets or pictures of objects. Students often move the objects to one side as they count which helps them organize the counting. This is a multi-sensory approach which engages the brain and helps students learn through different approaches.
- Use manipulatives: Use objects (chips, teddy bear counters, snap cubes, etc.). Student should count objects and say the number of objects in that set. NOTE: The final number counted is known as the cardinality of the set or the number which tells how many objects are in that set. After the student has counted each object, ask the student how many objects there are. If the student recounts the objects, he/she has not yet made the connection. If the student merely restates the last number, he/she has learned the cardinality of sets.
- Clothespin cards: Give student number cards and have the student attach the appropriate number of clothespins to each card. This strategy makes it easy for teachers to check student work at center time, etc.
- Stamping sets: Give student number cards and have student stamp that many objects on the card.
- Hole punch: Give student number cards and have student punch an appropriate number of holes in the card. Search the dollar store for cheap scrapbooking punches that create different shapes.
- Baggie Collections: Provide baggies with different numbers of objects in each bag and a set of appropriate number cards. Have student count objects in each bag, then select the number card to name that amount. Students can simply place the objects and number card back into the baggie for checking. Suggestion: Mark the bags with letters or shapes for easy checking of student work.
- Seasonal Collections: Provide seasonal manipulatives (leaves, acorns, candy corn, pumpkin seeds, seasonal foam cutouts, etc.) for students to use for counting purposes as this presents a fresh challenge that students do not see as the same old center.
- Seasonal Mats: Use different mats as well. For example, the Ladybug Mat is a great spring activity, enticing students to count the ladybug dots and create fanciful ladybugs.
- Seasonal Counting Game: Each student rolls a die and places that many objects on one leaf (pumpkin, spider web, side of the ladybug, etc.). Student rolls the die again and places that many objects on the other leaf (pumpkin, spider web, side of the ladybug, etc.). Student counts all of the objects and writes the number (if mat is inserted in sheet protector) or selects the Number card that names the total. Student with the greater amount wins that round.
- Dot Patterns: Have student practice identifying dot patterns. Begin with common dice patterns and have child build the pattern on mat, count the chips and name the number. Continue to practice this skill, eventually using a dot pattern flash game to encourage students to develop visual memory of dot patterns to 6 as found on dice and one side of dominoes. Show the pattern for a count of 3-5, then cover (if using overhead) or place face down (if using demo-size flashcards) while students try to reconstruct the pattern on their paper plate mats. Students should name the number and select the correct number card to name the sum.
- Domino Mat: Give student a domino mat and two-color counters. Have student replicate a domino, then count how many total dots are on the domino. Student should select an appropriate number card to name the sum. After some practice, help student develop a counting-on strategy by identifying the dot pattern on the left side and counting on from that number, rather than counting each dot, starting at 1. This is an important milestone skill that most students do not develop without teacher intervention and much practice.
- Listen and Tally: Teacher uses coins to drop one-by-one into a can so that they make a loud noise. Students should not be able to see the teacher drop the coins, but have to rely on listening for the sound. Students should make one tally mark on their whiteboards for each coin they hear drop. When teacher is finished, students count the tally marks and write the correct number on their whiteboards. Have students hold up whiteboards for easy checking. NOTE: This is a great transition activity to improve listening skills and students love it!!
- Classroom Applications: Have student perform classroom duties which support the development of one-to-one correspondence: attendance head count, passing out/collecting papers, paper plates, napkins, etc.
Games and Activities for Practice
Fish out of Water Game
Each student begins with 20 fish out of water. Each player rolls a die and counts out that many fish to return to the fish bowl. The first player to return all 20 of his/her fish to the bowl wins the game.
You may use foam fish cutouts and a plastic bowl (e.g. grocery cut fruit container and lid) for a more realistic version of the game or download the directions, game mat and center icons for Fish Out of Water. This game was developed by Christine Sweeney, a Monmouth University student, for the ED 556 Probability Fair.
Domino Parking Lot
Students use a set of regular dominoes and a domino parking mat. Each student selects a domino, counts the total number of dots (pips) and places the domino in that parking spot. Dominoes with the same number of dots may be stacked on top of each other in the parking spot, if necessary.
You may use foam and sharpie marker to create the parking lot mat or download the parking lot mat, copy on card stock, and laminate for student use.
As a variation of the game, select target sums and give students a point for each domino they find to park in those spaces. This motivates students to search for those particular combinations and heightens interest in finding those dominoes to win the most points for the group. Have one member of the group use a recording sheet, write in the day's winning numbers, then draw in the dots of the dominoes the group finds for those numbers.