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Sunday, October 2, 2016

Counting on: Some ideas for little mathematicians

Howdy guys!

The school year is in full swing and it has totally kept me busy! My goal is a post a month and September totally slipped by me. I'm sure you guys know how that can be :)

So let's get back into it with a post on one of my favorite subjects, Math

Counting on is a task my kiddos tend to struggle with every year. It seems that when adding their instinct is to start at 0 or 1 even when given a specific number.

Example: You ask your mathematicians to solve 5 + 3. They begin by counting from 1 to 5 and then trying to add three more. Sound familiar?

The goal with counting on is to have students begin with a known value and add more. In the example scenario of 5 + 3 a student who is efficient in counting on would pop up 5 fingers and count 3 more by continuing in number order  "6...7...8".

We have to practice this skill intentionally for the students to understand that you don't have to begin at 0. Here are a few ideas...

1. Create and refer often to a good visual or anchor chart

This visual from Top Notch Teaching explains counting on in a clear and concise way. You could print it or recreate for your classroom. 
(The link explains counting on in greater detail and has a game to practice the strategy.)

2. Practice with manipulatives

We used cubes to model the math problem we were solving. Although counting on usually begins with the larger number, in this case it was still effective beginning with the smaller number. In this particular activity we were focusing on not starting at 0. Students  touched each cube to continue counting in numerical order. 

So in the picture they used cubes to count and say "5...6...7...8..9"

3. Practice with a 10 frame

We used 10 frames in page protectors to practice counting on when dealing with a missing addend.  We picked a number and drew that many counters. In this case it was six. Then they had to count on to make 10. Once they get some fluency within 10 we will expand to use the second 10 frame for bigger equations.

Their equations read 6 + ___= 10 and they had to find out the missing number was 4 by counting on.

We continue to practice this skill in math centers and with our math curriculum. 
Do you have some tips and strategies that help make this concept clear for your students?
Please share!

Thanks for reading