Five Fun Ways to Teach Counting to Five!

You’ve all seen the child who counts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and yet there’s only three or four objects on the table right? It’s so frustrating that you know they can count so why do they skip objects or sometimes skip numbers?


Often a child who skips an object in their counting such as counting 3 items as having 4, or 2 objects as being 2 means they are still missing an important skill.


Many people think counting is just counting but what’s really important in preschool math skills that is easily overlooked is the ability to do 1–to-1 correspondence.


Of course this 1-to-1 correspondence is a math teacher expression and many people may not realize what this means....

But it’s super important for Kindergarten!


What it means is that the number one means one item, the number two means two items and so on as children should then continue being able to count actual items or objects and put a value to that rather than just rote counting.


Typically by the age of 5, children should have 1-to-1 correspondence up to the value of at least 5.


However, having a strong foundation being able to do this easily up to 10 objects is preferred because it will help them as they start to move beyond just identifying numbers, but explaining their thinking.


To help educators and parents, here are five really easy ways to teach “how” to count objects to the number five and get this 1-to1 correspondence skill.


1. Create spots for a circle time or picnic “playtime for 5 toy friends” that are either dolls or stuffed animals by having 5 scarves, or 5 pieces of paper and describe that each spot is for one friend.

Then count the spots to see how many friends they can bring. When you get to 5 spots emphasize they can bring 5 friends and help count the 5 friends. As you put each of the friends in a spot, count them and emphasize this math concept by using some language in some sentences such as:

“Look, we had 5 spots, and now 5 friends can come!”


2. Tell your child that today is a special “5 day”. That means that throughout the day you want to get 5 hugs or 5 kisses or 5 fist bumps frequently.


Then, throughout the day practice counting to 5 with the connection activity such as saying goodbye in the morning with 5 hugs or good night with 5 kisses.


3. Play “Let’s carry 5 things”. Model first how to play or do it together where each of you walk to the toy shelf or art shelf and pick up 5 things.


Then count them and show each other the 5 things you brought back. Once your child is ready you can have races or encourage them to get 5 things of a particular color.


4. At “snack or meal time” try giving them 5 of something such as 5 grapes, 5 crackers or 5 pieces of cheese.


Encourage your child to put the food on the plate or napkin by counting them out and then when they eat one food item encourage them to repeat counting with how many is left such as ‘now there are 4’.


Or do this activity backwards by giving them one piece and then when you give them a second you can say things like “You ate 2 pieces!”


5. Sing one of these popular 5 little … songs:


For more songs and finger play counting ideas check out this page.


And if you’re looking to add a little challenge after your child can do 1-to-1 correspondence to the number 5 try this using all their fingers and toes to count to 10 and then 20!


And for an added bonus try to count their hands and feet and then yours which will add up to 40! Then try it by counting by fives!


If you want to try out any of the ideas from this blog download this activity packet.


And if you want to learn more watch this video


For other fun ideas and activities use the search feature in our blog or watch this video.