EL Support Lesson

How Many Fish in the Ocean?

Use this ocean-inspired lesson plan to practice using one-to-one correspondence with your students. This can be used as a stand-alone lesson or support lesson for the **Matching Numbers** lesson plan.
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Matching Numbers lesson plan.
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This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Matching Numbers lesson plan.

Students will be able to count objects using one-to-one correspondence.


Students will be able to count to 10 using tactile supports.

(3 minutes)
  • Gather the class together for a read-aloud.
  • Display the ocean vocabulary card and define ocean as a large body of water that is home to many different animals.
  • Ask, "Has anyone ever been to the ocean or seen a picture of the ocean before? What kinds of animals did you see?"
  • Instruct students to turn and talk to share their experience at the ocean or ocean animals.
  • Display the book, One Lonely Fish and say, "Today we are going to read a book about fish who live in the ocean and we are going to count them! We count to find out how many of something there is."
(10 minutes)
  • Read aloud the book One Lonely Fish by Andy Mansfield & Thomas Flinthan.
  • Pause on each page to point to count each fish (encouraging students to echo count after you) and then point to the written number.
  • Display one number at a time of the pre-cut number cards (in order) on your document camera or smartboard.
  • Point to each number, saying the name aloud and picking up the corresponding amount of counting manipulatives. "One. Here is one snap cube. Two, let's count one, two snap cubes."
  • Explain that when you count, you want to keep track so that you count everything only once. Demonstrate different ways to keep track while counting (pointing, physically moving objects, using a ten frame, etc.).
(5 minutes)
  • Ask the students to think about the story. What happened on each page?
  • Use the story to demonstrate how there is one more (bigger) fish on each page. Practice counting the fish on each page chorally as a group.
  • Tell students that now they will get a chance to practice counting items one at a time as a group.
  • Point to each number 1–10 on the board and have the class to echo-count after you. As you count, invite one student at a time up to model how numbers correspond to quantity (e.g., three students should be standing when you get to the number 3).
  • Pair students with a partner and pass out math manipulatives to each pair.
  • Using the number cards, point to the number 2 and ask each pair to count out the same number of math manipulatives.
  • As a group, point to each manipulative in turn and count them aloud (e.g., "One, two...").
  • Pass out numbers a set of pre-cut number cards to each pair and explain that now students will get to choose a number card, then count the same number of counting manipulatives with their partner.
(5 minutes)
  • Display the Count and Color: Five worksheet and explain that students will now get to practice counting out the number five by coloring five fish.
  • Have students practice writing the number 5 in the air using invisible ink.
  • Pass out worksheets for each student to complete independently.


  • Work with a small teacher-led group to practice matching numbers to the corresponding quantity of items (e.g., the number 3 to three snap cubes).
  • Provide students with a number line to use when counting.
  • Allow students to count in their home language (L1).


  • Have students practice their one-to-one correspondence skills using numbers 11–20 using number cards and a partner.
  • Encourage students to explain how they are keeping track as they count.
(5 minutes)
  • Circulate around the classroom to assess if students are able to accurately match the correct number of objects to the target number (e.g., three buttons for the number 3).
  • Ask guiding questions to assess student understanding: "How many __ __ __ __ do you have?" "How are you keeping track as you count?" "Can you show me?"
  • Take pictures and capture anecdotal evidence of student learning to display on a process board for reflection.
(2 minutes)
  • Gather the class back together to re-read the story one more time, this time encouraging the students to read and count along with you.

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