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How to Teach Counting, Learning to Count in Early Childhood Part 4: Initial Number Sequence

Updated: Nov 26, 2023

Get the full overview in one place! Presented at the Making Math Moments Summit, you can get the full presentation here!

Initial Number Sequence

A student at this stage of counting has developed advanced counting by one's strategies, like counting up from one number, counting up to a number to solve problems when adding up small numbers through 100.

Take 67+5. Using the count up from strategy, students in this stage will know they can start counting from 67 and count on 5, stopping at 72 because they can track that they have made 5 counts.

The count up to strategy would be used to solve a problem with a missing addend. In a problem like 18+___=22, a student would count up from 18… 19,20,21,22, tracking perhaps on fingers to know the answer is 4.

They may also use count down from strategy to solve subtraction tasks for example 15-3, 15…14,13,12. However, they might not be able to solve for a missing subtrahend 15-___=12 problem at this stage.

What do I look out for?

Students at this stage

  • Can keep track of their counts when solving problems, knowing they need to track and ability to accomplish it is a marker of this stage.

  • Can count to forward to 100 by ones and beyond

  • May be able to count backward from 30 but maybe not 100

  • Recognize numbers to 100 but may make some reversal errors, calling 37 seventy-three

  • May be able to name some 3-digit numbers like 527, but 502 may cause a mistake since there is no number in the tens place.

  • They may be able to skip count by 10s on the decade (10, 20, 30) but not off the decade (14,24,34)

How can I help students in this stage of counting?

Students in this stage of counting can be supported with opportunities to practice counting on and back, as well as increasing their familiarity and understanding of the 100’s chart.

100s Chart Activites

100s Chart Puzzles

A great way to support students in learning how the number system works is to get familiar with the 100’s chart. An easy and fun way to work with the 100s chart is with 100s chart puzzles.

To make one you simply cut up a 100s chart and have your students put it back together. You can change the difficulty by making the pieces smaller or bigger. You can get a 120 chart included in any of the centers listed below!

Fill in the Missing Number: Spin and Fill

In this center, students spin the tens spinner and then the ones spinner to get their number. Then they choose a place to write the number. Afterward, they then write the numbers around it on the play mat. This Fill in the Missing Number Spin and Fill Center is easy to prep and will help your students with place value, number writing, and familiarity with the 100s chart.

Fill in the Missing Number No Prep Worksheets

If you’re looking for a no-prep way to practice missing numbers this is for you with 14 different print-and-go fill in the missing number worksheets. Some are missing the same number patterns and some are a variety so students can start to recognize how numbers work in the number system.

Activities to Encourage Counting On Strategies

How Many Candies?

In this counting-on-addition activity, your students first spin the hand spinner as their starting number. They will then spin the next spinner and count on that many candies to their total. They have an optional recording sheet to record their equations with How Many Candies!

Hide and Count

This is a partner game. Partner A rolls two dice, waits 3 seconds then hides only one die. Then partner B has to count how many dots there are altogether. Both partners check if the answer is correct and if partner B is correct, they can move their piece on the game board until one player finishes. You can also play the print-and-play version where students color in squares on the gameboard and the person with the most at the end wins! Get it here on TPT or the website store!

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