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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Counting Fun -part 1

             Counting Fun –part 1
If you teach a group of students you may notice when it comes to review time that everyone appears to knows numbers, colors, shapes and so on when the questions are directed to the entire group.  But I quickly realize that once students are tested individually it’s a different story.  So in teaching I do an assessment periodically to see who needs help and it what specific areas.
One of these areas is counting. As a group it seems like everyone can count from one up to a determine number.  This activity helps to make an assessment to see to what number an individual student can count up to without skipping a number.  It also gives me knowledge on the problem areas of connection between one number and the next. For example a student may count up to 19 and be stuck there but that does not necessarily means the student does not know the rest of numbers; sometimes it is just a number the student needs help in to continue the sequence. These and other observation can be detected with this ball activity I will share.
The activity is very simple yet I find it to be very effective. For some reason children enjoy games with ball.
This game is a favorite from ages 4 all the way to 12 but older kids will have fun too. For older students above 12, I will share some ball activities later on. But for now the activities I am sharing now works well for children 4 to 12 years of age.

Just have a bouncing ball. For younger students use a medium to big size ball. It doesn't have to be spiky as my students call my ball. It can be a regular smooth ball.

 For older students a smaller size works fine.

Tell students they will have a change to bounce the ball as they count. Tell them they will count as they bounce the ball and see which one counts to the highest number without help and without skipping a number.  Students love the challenge.  So as participants have their turn, they start counting each time the ball hits the floor and keep on going until they reach the highest number selected or up to whatever number they can count to. Once they skip a number then their turn is over. I will make a note as to what number they were able to count to without problems.  What I normally do before having the students start the activity is to practice before by bouncing the ball myself, and have students as a group count along with me as I bounce. To make it more coordinated and rhythmic, I instruct them to count only when the ball hits the floor not before; so we try it and practice it for a while. To encourage concentration and focus, without warning, I will withhold the ball from bouncing, so at that point they should not count…..I make it fun for them and they really enjoy it especially when I hold the ball back from hitting the floor. It keeps them alert and ready. Once we do the little practice now they are ready and know exactly what to do.
To keep track of students counting progress I created this assessment sheet for my records and for reference.
If you try the activity and would like to use the assessment sheet you can access it here.
Benefits using ball with young children:
·         It helps boost memory and concentration
·         It helps develop motor skills
·         It helps develop eye/hand coordination
·         It helps develop spatial awareness
·         It helps develop focus
·         It helps develop rhythmic coordination

My students never get tired of this activity. They always ask me if I brought the ball.

Another variation is to have students bounce the ball back and forth with a partner as they count.
Another idea is to have number cards face down on the table.  The student that is going to count picks a card up and whichever number is on the card student counts up to that number. If the student counted correctly student keeps the card and keeps picking up another card and counts up to the number on the card and so on until a numbers is skipped.  At the end instructor sees which student has the most cards.  The cards that students have serve as a quick reference guide for the instructor to see up to what number the students can count up to if instructor forgets to keep the score during the game.
Another game is to have a student throw the ball to another student.  This is excellent for practicing commands in Spanish.  Children have a natural tendency to understand a new language by deduction. Without previous explanation I will give the ball to a student and tell the student in Spanish “tira la pelota a Juan” (throw the ball to Juan) and so on…they automatically understand what I mean and throw the ball.  
Hope you have as much fun doing these games with your group as my students and I do! 
Give it a try and share your experience, comments, feedback, etc... they are welcome!


  1. I think is a great idea. I have the same problem because when children are tested individually I realize that lots of them need to reinforce the vocab. Thanks for sharing! :-)

    1. You are welcome Carmen!
      Yes, I do encounter this problem and it's not uncommon for that to happen, that's why I like doing the assessment periodically to evaluate and help those students who may have difficulty for one reason or the other.