EL Support Lesson

Race to 120

Build familiarity with numbers from 1 to 120 with this fun game. This lesson can be used alone or with the lesson plan **Then Came One.**
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for theThen Came OneLesson plan.
GradeSubjectView aligned standards
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for theThen Came OneLesson plan.

Students will be able to articulate patterns of one more and one less and count on to 120.


Students will be able to describe the relationship between numbers with content-specific vocabulary using manipulatives and peer support.

(5 minutes)
Race to 120Teach Background Knowledge TemplateWrite Student-Facing Language Objectives Reference
  • Display two sets of circular counters side by side on the document camera (e.g. four and six).
  • Ask students to point to the set that shows MoreCounters. Think aloud, "That's right! Six is more than four!"
  • Now ask students to show you the set that shows LessCounters. Think aloud, "Correct! Four is less than six."
  • Gesture with your hands spread wide as students repeat, "more." Gesture with hands close together as students repeat "less."
  • Project the Race to 120 gameboard, and tell students that today they will play a fun game to practise counting on.
(10 minutes)
  • Tell students that today they will practise counting from one to 120.
  • Distribute 20 circular counters or other maths manipulative to each student. Set a timer for two minutes, and allow students a few minutes to freely explore the manipulatives.
  • Tell students that the counters will now be used as maths tools, and tell students to group the counters together on one side of their desk.
  • Project the Race to 120 gameboard, and point to the number five. Instruct students to show you five counters. If students struggle to separate the counters, provide a paper plate or ten frame to use as a work space.
  • Begin by introducing "one more." Tell students to show you one finger, and repeat after you, "one more" as they gesture with hands spread wide. Ask students to show you one more counter.
  • Display the sentence frame, "____Is 1 more than ____." Tell students to repeat after you, "Six is one more than five."
  • Continue with a few more examples as students build a number, and then show one more. Show students the two numbers on the Race to 120 gameboard.
  • Tell students they will now practise one less, or fewer. Display the sentence frame, "____Is 1 less than ____."
  • Instruct students to build a number, for example 12. Tell students to show you one less counter. Have them repeat after you, "11 is one less than 12."
  • Practise with a few more examples of both one more and one less.
(5 minutes)
  • Ask students where they can find the number that is one more than ten on the Race to 120 gameboard. Show students that they need to move down one row to find eleven. Students repeat, "11 is one more than ten."
  • Model the activity by placing a penny or game piece on "1" of the projected gameboard. Ask students to identify the game piece (penny) and value (one cent).
  • Tell students that to play the game they will roll a die and move that many more spaces. The first player to reach 120 wins.
  • Roll the die, and choose a students volunteer to move the penny that many spaces on the projected gameboard. Remind them that as they count on the numbers are getting bigger.
  • Show students that they will not count the space they start on, but rather the number of jumps between numbers.
  • Model rolling a number (5) counting aloud as you move your penny forward five spaces. Think aloud, "One plus five equals six. I am on six now."
  • Continue to demonstrate a few more rolls. Remind students that they will need to move from left to right, and count on beginning on the far left of the row below once they reach the end of the row.
  • Display the steps to play the game:
    1. Roll the die. The player with the higher roll goes first.
    2. Player A starts at 1 and rolls the die.
    3. Player A counts to move that many spaces.
    4. Player B rolls and counts to move that many spaces.
    5. First player to 120 wins!
  • Display the sentence frame, "____+ ____= ____. I am on ____." Encourage students to share a number sentence with their partner as they play.
  • As a variation, require that players get an exact roll to win. For example, if a player is on 117, they cannot roll a four.
(10 minutes)
  • Give each students a copy of the Race to 120 gameboard. Students will not share the gameboard.
  • Give each partnership a die.
  • Tell students to help their partner count on, and to check that the partner is counting correctly.


  • Work with a teacher-led small group to play the game.
  • Partner students with peers who speak the same home language (L1) if possible. Allow them to count in L1 if they do not yet know number names in English.


  • Prompt students to explain the steps to count on. Have them name which number they started on, how many more spaces they counted on, and the number that they landed on.
  • Provide a ten frame for students to organise their counters during guided practise. Give students a target number, and ask how many more counters they would need to fill all the spaces on the ten frame.
(5 minutes)
  • Circulate as students play the game. Prompt students to explain their thinking by asking questions such as, "What number did you start on? What number did you roll? What number did you end on?"
  • Check that students are able to count accurately using the 120 chart. Assess that they know number names in English.
(5 minutes)
  • Instruct students to give you a thumbs up if they enjoyed the activity.
  • Invite students to reflect on the activity using the sentence frame, "I liked/ did not like the Race to 120 game because ____."
  • Send the game home and instruct students to play with a family member.
  • Move the activity to a maths centre and allow students to play during small-group work time.

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