Preschool Counting Practice: Count Me In!

By Laurie Patsalides

Prekindergarten students need a lot of counting practice. They can get this practice in different ways with the books, songs and games, which I have collected for you.

Types of Counting Skills

When choosing games to reinforce how to count, it is best to choose online and offline games to be sure you are reaching the Numbers different types of learner and teaching the skills outlined above. We begin by looking at what are the types of counting skills, then we tie in literacy and online games in counting.

Students of preschool age begin early number sense. Learning to count in the early grades will set the foundation for the latter grades. Depending on the Pre-K program and state standards, most students will learn to count to 10 or even 20 by the end of the school year. Counting skills learned in Pre-K are:

  • Rote Counting - This is the simplest form of counting; this is when a student can count aloud by ones, twos, fours and so on. It should not be assumed that if students can rote count that they recognize numbers, have mastered one-to-one correspondence or can identify numbers in sequential order.
  • One-to-One Correspondence (sometimes called Rational Counting) - This is the understanding that one object represents only the number 1 and two objects represents only the number 2, etc.
  • Recognizing Numbers/Writing Numbers - This is the ability to recognize the written form of the number and that the written number 5 has a numerical meaning.
  • Sequential (Number) Ordering - This is the understanding that numbers always follow in the same sequence.

Counting with Books

Two awesome books on counting are available for free in PDF online. Laminating them after printing is recommended for years of Ten Little Bunnies by Nurit Karlin use. After reading one or both of these books make a number book (directions follow).

Ten Little Bunnies by Nurit Karlin (free in PDF by Children's Books Forever)

Waldo One, Two, Three by Hans Wilhem (free PDF by Children's Books Forever)

Make a Number Book:

I have also created a free book for you to use when teaching counting. Download and print this preschool counting book. Copy enough for each student. Staple the pages 1-10 together. Each week as you cover a number, have the students put their thumbprints on the page, draw a corresponding object, or cut and paste a corresponding object next to the number. This is great practice for number recognition as well because the students will have to open their books to the correct page each time the book is used. This book can be used in many ways across any theme.

A Counting Rhyme

Play a matching game with this rhyme (directions to follow):

Show Me One (Author Unknown)

One, one, show me 1,

One, one, show me 1,

One, one, show me 1.

Show me 1 right now.

(Continue with numbers one- ten; cover one number each week.)

Print the rhyme written out on chart paper and laminate. Draw the corresponding number of objects on index cards and laminate (for example, one butterfly). Have the students take turns taping the object to the number one (1) onto the chart paper as you read the poem aloud for the week. As you move on to the next week's number, cover the number to see if the students know what number is coming next.

Favorite Online Counting Games and The Skills They Reinforce

Having a list of games with the counting skill or skills reinforced is useful. These sites were selected due to usability for young students. They can be used for centers or small group work:

Magic Keys - The Counting Story - This site provides practice in one-to-one correspondence, number recognition and sequential ordering.

Count Us In - Provides a wide variety of preschool counting games.

Story Place - Count the Bananas - Students count the number of bananas the monkey eats; works on one-to-one correspondence and number recognition.

ABC Ya - Count the Fish - Students count the fish and select the correct number; focuses on one-to-one correspondence and recognizing numbers.

Literacy Center - 1, 2, 3 Numbers - Students listen to the number being read and count the stars; promotes number recognition practice and works on sequential ordering and one-to-one correspondence.

Playing counting games is an important part of the Pre K math curriculum. Choosing both online and offline games will help to reach all learners and allow more opportunities for mastery. Most importantly, this selection is designed to be fun for the kids! As you take children through the exercises and introduce them to the materials, recognize that some students will advance more quickly than others. Each student learns at his own pace.


Classroom experience from Laurie Patsalides.

Show Me One from

One-to-One Correspondence and Counting Skills on Project Math Access


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