Lesson plan

Counting Collections

Counting collections are a great way to help students practise counting while gaining practise recording and justifying their thinking. Students will work specifically with the numbers 1-30 to develop fluency counting and writing numbers.
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EL Adjustments
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Count all the way up to 30 in the Counting Collections lesson plan! Highlighting number sense skills and providing real-world practise with two-digit numbers, this hands-on maths lesson pairs well with the first-grade curriculum. Students will work in groups as they look at countable objects together. First, they will make an estimate. Then, they’ll count them up! Students will work together, use symbols or shapes to help them tally up the objects, and compare their final counts with other groups as they complete the activities.

Students will be able to count within 30.

The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
EL adjustments
(5 minutes)
  • Show students a bag of like objects. Consider having the class sit in a circle so students can see the whole group of objects.
  • Ask students to Estimate, or guess, how many objects are in the group.
(5 minutes)
  • Tell students that you are going to CountHow many objects are in the group. When counting large groups, it can be easy to lose track of what you count. Tell students you are going to count and then record what you counted to double-check your work.
  • Count the objects one by one, saying numbers aloud as you count. Invite students to chorally count with you. When you have counted all the objects, write the number of objects on the board.
  • Now tell students that you are going to RecordYour work.
(10 minutes)
  • To record your work, use the whiteboard or a piece of paper to draw circles, lines, or other symbols.
  • Have a student come up to the front of the class to count the objects one by one as you draw. Encourage the rest of the class to count along with the student.
  • As the student counts, draw the objects on the board.
  • When the counting is done, call on another student to come up and check your drawing. Did your drawing have the same number of objects as the class counted? Write numbers under each picture to check.
(25 minutes)
  • Have students work in pairs. Pass out a counting collection and piece of paper to each pair.
  • As students count, they should create a representation to show how they counted. As students gain fluency with the activity, encourage them to count by twos, fives, or tens. Ask students to write numbers with their representations to show how they counted.
  • When students finish counting one collection, they can trade collections with another pair.


  • Have students count by ones and draw a circle for each object they count.
  • Work with select students in a teacher-led group.


  • Have students estimate before they count.
  • Ask students to count and record by twos, fives, or tens.
(5 minutes)
  • Ask students to explain their counting strategies and how they checked their work.
(5 minutes)
  • Have students who counted the same collections share their final count. If the pairs came up with different numbers, count the collection as a group.

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