Nature Play On Vancouver Island

Nature Kindergarten On Vancouver Island

Counting Collections In Kindergarten

What is the mathematical thinking that children are working through Counting Collections?

"Counting is more than repeating a rote sequence and reorganizing the numerals. Learning to count while simultaneously developing a sense of quantities and number relationships is an important foundation for kindergarten students. It is expected that the student understands a quantity represents the number and how numbers are related. Counting is finding out how many." 

  • correct sequence of number names
  • one to one correspondence
  • saying one number name for each object counted
  • cardinality
  • conservation
  • counting forwards, backwards and any starting point
  • making connections between number names, quantities and symbols
  • understanding how do the numbers go together
  • making decisions on how to count accurately including choosing the right tool
  • asking for help and including other
Kindergarten January collection

I choose to use small mason jars to hold the collection as I love the bright joyful look of the objects sitting on the shelf, it is super simple to increase the number of objects and the children can easily see which objects are in the jars. I refresh the objects regularly a well as the quantity so that the children's interest remains intact. If you are worried about the glass then switch to plastic.

Some suggested objects:
You will want to select objects that will engage the children's interests:

small rocks, small shells, gems, beads, poker chips, golf tees, felt balls, milk lids, marker lids, buttons, beads, small wood cookies, acorns, small animals, tiles, wood cubes, keys, paper clips, seeds, beans, dice, bears... any small objects that you come across.  I avoid heavy objects because I use glass jars. I also recommend sharing your collections with colleagues to expand the material selection if your school does not have shared resources. 

Storage options:
In the past I used freezer zip loc bags and stored the collection in a plastic dishpan. This popular system worked for me for about 15 years, but when I moved to my new school five years ago I had very limited and different storage (the dishpans did not fit) so I switched to recycled glass jars, which I collected from friends and family and love!

Shared Resources
This year our math team has created 3 shared counting collections, and we have chosen to store the collection in freezer zip loc bags. I had prepared a tub two years ago for our kindergarten professional learning group and knew that this would be awesome for our school to have our own tubs for the primary classes. We now have three tubs; kindergarten (10-50),  grade one (50-100) and a grade two/three (hovers around100+)

We have also purchased a professional book Choral Counting and Counting Collections by Franke, Kazemi and Turrou.

Introducing your framework:
In the fall I introduce counting jars as a partner routine, using small numbers of objects in the range of 3 to 15. Initially the children do counting jars about 3 times a week, makings an estimate and then counting the objects, during the first few weeks of school and eventually move to once a week as their stamina grows. They are just counting over and over again. I don't ask them to record until the spring as they are preparing for grade one. For Kindergarten children it is the counting that is so important, interesting and joyful for them. Grade One children would  be making a record early in the year since they have that experience from the last months of kindergarten. 

The Teacher:
Once the children know their job, I switch from managing them, to observing and learning about their knowledge and understandings about numbers. I may observe, listen, make notes. At other times I may coach or prompt children to use what they know, share their learning (or awesome mistake) with the class, reference the anchor chart that we co-created, or ask questions in response to what they are doing. "is there another way that you can organize your materials so that you can count more accurately?" 

The children love to count and share their thinking with me and I learn so much about them during this time.

I carry a recording sheet with me on a clipboard while I circulate around the room. The recording sheet came from a counting collections video, follow the link below. It is from the States so the math outcomes would be different.

Counting Collections Teacher Inservice

The Framework:
  • Mini Lesson
  • Partners confer
  • A gets jars, B finds a private space to work
  • Children choose to count together or side by side
  • Children make an estimate and then count
  • B returns jar(s) and selects new jar(s)
  • Repeats (term 1)
  • Children get a clipboard and complete record (late term 2)
  • class debrief
  • my students have the same partner all year so I take my time assigning partners
  • each month A and B switch roles
Don't skip the debrief as their thinking and listening is an important experience.

All of my mini lessons are connected to what I have observed during the counting session; 1:1 correspondence, organization, touch and count, how to choose a jar....

During the second term the counting jars hold much larger numbers so the mini lessons include different strategies to organize the objects; cups, plates, egg cartons... as the numbers are larger and they are focused on being accurate. 
Grade 1/2 Counting Jars November 2018

As the children are introduced and practicing the strategies, I make an anchor chart to refer to each time we do the framework. I also gradually increase the number of jars as well as the number of objects to continuously provide a challenge. When we do our counting map I listen carefully to the children to ensure that they are feeling capable and confident. 

I may pull small groups during counting jar framework to count together to practice a strategy, ask the whole group to practice a strategy or do a counting map to have the children reflect upon their counting; what is the largest number, smallest number, how did they count 1's 2's 3's... what strategy did they use? If I have a lot of vulnerable children I will pull pairs of students for a few minutes during Exploration to count together.

We celebrate our counting with drawing and art so that   guests to our room enjoy the children's work.

Over time the children count comfortably to 20 and beyond, see patterns in numbers and learn to help each other. By the end of the year the children are counting large collections and reorganizing them into friendly groups like 25, 50, 100... as well as using the objects for place value; 100, 10 and 1's. 

The children use egg cartons, counting cups, five or ten frames, tart tins and plates to organize the materials as the quantity increases. It really is amazing how much they learn by playing with numbers!!! This year I found ice cube trays with ten boxes so they have been very popular with kinders.

Grade Two Spring Counting 

Shared Resources Counting Bins for Kindergarten/Grades Kindergarten, One and Two classes purchased through NOII Math Grant and school funds. The Grades 1-2 have colour coding on the bags so teachers know the quantity of objects. I looked for smaller objects the higher the grade as the quantity was much larger (100-200) and so I wanted them to be able to use the containers. I also focused on different objects for each grade bin.
Balanced Numeracy Great link to read more about whole group, small group and independent math work.


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