I’ve been learning about Counting Collections for the last few years. However, I never had the time or money to invest in really giving it a go with my Kindergarten students. Finally, I was able to start creating my collections last school year. At the beginning of that year, I knew I wanted to wait until the 100th day of school was over to introduce it. So I took my time building the collections months ahead of time. It began with perusing Office Depot’s website and coming across this deal on storage containers.

For $1.29 each plus free shipping on orders over $35 I told myself, “It’s now or never, Janine.” I went ahead and ordered 34 containers for my class of 24 kids in order to have some boxes left over to differentiate for those kids that struggle with numbers up until the end of the school year. One way I saved money was by collecting “trinkets” from all over my house and classroom. Eight years in the same classroom will naturally create pockets of “stuff” tiny enough for little fingers to count. So it was surprisingly easy to fill a whopping 20 containers with cute, small, colorful things! For the other 14 boxes, I headed out to Michael’s craft store and used my 15% off teacher discount by showing my teachers’ union ID card at the checkout counter.

Here are my 34 boxes!! I am so proud of them.

They were all ready just before our 50th day of school and I was a tiny bit heartbroken to have to store them in a closet until the 100th day of school passed. But it was for the best considering my students come in with little to no foundation skills the first day of school. So they weren’t ready for this kind of skip counting on the 50th day.

In order to keep track of which child has counted which box, I made a grid checklist for each child. Each page has 6 grids. I printed it out 4 times for my class of 24 kids. Each page is for each number sense skill group.

I noticed 4 boxes contained very small objects that totaled way over 120 so I chose to keep those last 4 OFF the checklist. I will unofficially bring them out for the kids who are ready when needed. I will probably just hand write the number behind the child’s grid to keep track of which of the four they’ve used already.

I also laminated ten frames with five frames on the reverse side for future use. I knew that when I introduced this activity, I would do it in small group and I’d start with my two highest number sense skill groups. This way, I could work out the kinks for the next day when I introduced it to my two lower number sense groups.

I randomly selected containers for the kids on the first day and we filled out our paper together EXCEPT the picture portion. I told them they were going to do that part AFTER they counted their collections on the mats. In the future, I do want the kids to count with a partner but for these first two introduction sessions at my small group table, I told the kids to cross that part out as they were going to each count their own collection today.

If I don’t see an improvement with each small group after two sessions with me, I will probably keep this activity restricted to small group for another two or more sessions before trying this activity with the whole class. In that case I’ll “white out” that partner name row completely because if they’re doing it in small group with me I am basically “the partner” that helps them figure it out so they wont need a child to help them.

After two rotations, I was tired but the joy on the kids faces was worth it! The second day’s two groups went pretty well. I knew they would as I selected my two top groups to work with. Here are some shots of the kids placing their objects in the ten frames:

I used an Astrobrights paper variety pack from Walmart and I made my own ten frames in PowerPoint. Again, its not visible in the photo but the reverse side of each mat has 6 five frames for the days when the kids are ready to count by fives.

The kids did really well at counting their totals and writing the number. However, the next day’s two groups may need a number line or 100s chart. The first day’s two groups did need me to count how many FULL ten frames they had in order to draw that quantity of circles with the number ten written inside. As well as how many single items were left over in the UNFILLED ten frames and drawing that many circles with a number one written in them.

Before wrapping up the first day’s sessions completely, I held up each child’s page to the group and verbally went over all the parts of the sheet out loud for the rest of the group to hear. We clapped for each child and I reminded them that at some point they will have to count those other collections too! Then I asked the kids to put away their collections and snap the locks on the lid into place. It was a lot of fun!

Here are the blackline masters for each of the activities pictured above. I made some pages not shown above to help differentiate for my class. My goal is to begin implementing Counting Collections on a weekly basis from now until the end of the school year.

Front Cover Photo for this Article – Colorful Buttons