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This post has been co-written with Ben Wolfson, a full-time educator and assistant principal in the USA.
The kindergarten classroom is where true math magic happens. Students come in as a blank slate and leave with the knowledge of number names and the counting system. However, as an educator, you are responsible for making this number magic happen. All children learn differently, so you need a variety of ways to teach counting to your students, but fortunately there are untold types of counting skills and activities out there.
Way #1 – Ten and Twenty Frames
Counting sets to 20 is an essential kindergarten skill as it covers all the unique number names (including those tricky teens!) and moves beyond a student’s natural memory capacity, forcing them to group and subitize. Ten frames are the most popular format for teaching rational counting as students use markers or counters to fill up grids of ten squares. They will start to recognize the shapes that each number makes, and start to count by ten as they fill up each frame. Once they have mastered this, they can move on to twenty frames. Have a look at some of the ones below and download the one you need!
Way #2 – Number Lines
As students get older, number lines get viewed as an unnecessary crutch, but the mathematical concepts they teach are essential. Students using a number line see the sequential nature of the number system and it’s the easiest way to transition students from concrete visualizations of one more and one less to abstract number sentences. Number lines also help students develop basic addition skills, meaning you can get lots of kindergarten counting activities from one resource.
Way #3 – Counting Clip Cards
If you’re looking for independent math activities that match the theme of your classroom, clip cards are where it’s at. These simple kindergarten counting activities have a certain number of images on each card, and a specific number of choices for students to pick from. They’re a great scaffolding tool as you teach counting sets to 20 as well as an opportunity for students to practice fine motor skills and working independently. There are plenty for you to get started with below!
Way #4 – Playdough Counting Mats
Kindergarten is a great time for students to practice multiple skills at once. Playdough counting mats helps students master their number formation skills as well as developing their fine motor skills. These worksheets are themed to match your classroom and have large versions of each number and students take playdough and use it to mold the shape of the number making it an ideal independent practice center. Any counting mat, whether they come with their own counters or not, can technically be used with playdough as a substitute. Here a few examples:
Way #5 – Draw and Count or Color and Count
As your students develop their rational counting skills, you can challenge them to create their own counting activities. In these worksheets, students are presented with a number and a theme, and they then have to draw the right number of images to match the number. These can be checked by a partner or reused by the student themselves for a future counting activity, as well as making a great display for your math bulletin board.
Using these 5 ways to teach counting will help your students master their basic number recognition and counting skills before they reach first grade. To their parents, it will certainly look like you’re a number magician, but you know it’s all about using the right resources to meet the students at their level.
Fun Books About Counting 1-10 That Rhyme:
Browse My Most Popular Math Printables:
1) Parking Cars Tracing Lines – More than 10 different tracing line patterns to choose from, all of which help with pencil control.
2) Scarecrow Arrange By Size – 3 different scarecrow-themed image sets that they will arrange from smallest to biggest.
3) Bumblebee Addition Game – Solve the sum and help the bee land on the correct flower!
4) Farm Shapes Mats – Use playdough, pompoms, stickers etc to learn 2D shapes.
5) Popsicle Stick Number Formation – Kids will love forming the numbers 1 to 10 when ice cream and popsicles are involved!
6) Valentines Printable Worksheets Pack – 50 pages of mixed literacy and math activities.
7) Zoo Animals Number Puzzle Strips – Complete these cute puzzles and learn the numbers 1 to 20.
8) Counting Colorful Bugs – This printable book will help kids count to 10 while also learning about color words.
9) Humpty Dumpty Numbers – In this printable game, your students will practice number recognition using 1 dice or simple addition when using 2 dice.
10) Build A Number Santa – Match the number to the correct number word, tally mark and domino to form a Santa Claus
Bunny Addition to 10 with Number Line
Can Your Students Sport The Odd One Out?
Christmas Printable Worksheet Pack
Count The Flowers 1-10
Christmas Themed Literacy and Math Centers
Simple Snowman Real Life 2D Shapes Puzzles
Halloween Shadow Match
Christmas Math Task Cards: Counting and Comparing Ornaments to 10