EL Support Lesson

Penny Toss!

Students will get plenty of practice counting and writing numbers to 30 as they compete to win this fun game! Use this scaffolded EL Support Lesson alone, or alongside the lesson plan **I Spy Counting Practice.**
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the I Spy Counting Practice lesson plan.
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This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the I Spy Counting Practice lesson plan.

Students will be able to count within 30.


Students will be able to name and count numbers within 30 using visual and peer support.

(5 minutes)
  • Show the students a penny, and ask the students to name the coin.
  • Ask students how much the coin is worth (one cent!).
  • Ask students what shape the coin is ( a circle!).
  • Tell students that today they will be using pennies to play a fun game, Penny Toss. Explain that toss means to throw something gently. Have students gesture as though to throw something and repeat, "toss."
  • Explain that a penny is a type of coin. Ask students to name other coins (nickels, quarters, dimes).
(5 minutes)
  • Display a chart titled "Numbers" that shows the numerals and number names from 1-30.
  • Instruct one child to come up to the front of the class and raise her fingers one by one as you point to the number names on the chart and count chorally as a class.
  • Ask students how you can show the number 11 on fingers. Wait for students to suggest sending a second child to stand by the first. Count on from 11-20 as the second child raises their fingers. Overly emphasize the n in the teen numbers, as English learners may not easily hear the difference between thirteen and thirty.
  • Choose a third student to raise more fingers as you count chorally from 21-30.
  • Tell students that today they will practice counting to 30. Tell them that counting means to name items one by one until you find the total.
  • If students need more practice counting to 30, seat them in a circle. Pass a stuffed animal or other item around the circle, and instruct students to call out the next number in the number sequence. If students have mastered the counting sequence, challenge them to count backwards from 30 to 1 as they pass the stuffed animal.
  • Partner students and have them take turns calling out the next number to practice counting from one to 30 in pairs. Extend the activity by having them count backwards from 30 if able.
(5 minutes)
  • Tell students that they will need to be able to count to 30 to play Penny Toss..
  • Show students the materials they will need to play with their partner: a penny and an empty plastic cup. Project the Penny Toss Recording Sheet. If possible, place recording sheets in plastic sheet protectors and instruct students to fill them in with dry erase markers to allow for reuse.
  • Write the rules for the game:
    1. Player A tosses the penny toward the cup.
    2. Scoring:
      • Penny lands in the cup: 2 points
      • Penny hits the cup: 1 point
      • Penny misses the cup: 0 points
    3. Player A writes their score on the recording sheet: I have ____ points. I earned ____ points. Now I have ____ points.
    4. Player B tosses the penny.
    5. First player to 30 wins!
  • Model playing a few rounds with a volunteer.
  • Toss the penny, and record your score on the Penny Toss Recording Sheet. Think aloud, "I have 0 points. I tossed the penny in the cup, so I get 2 points. Now I have 2 points."
  • Continue taking turns with a student, modeling counting on and recording your score. Tell students to turn and talk to a partner to answer questions as you play. How many points did you score? How many points do you have total? Who has more points, you or your partner?
(10 minutes)
  • Set up the game so that each partnership has one penny and one cup. Seat partners facing each other on either side of a desk with students both equal distance from the cup.
  • As a variation, require that students take one step back each time they score.
  • Each student should keep track of her own score on the recording sheet. Place the recording sheet inside a sheet protector for reuse and have students track their points using a dry erase marker.


  • Work with a teacher-led small group to play Penny Toss.
  • If students do not yet know number names in English, allow them to count in their home language (L1). Partner students who speak the same L1.


  • Challenge students to start at 30 and subtract points. In this variation the first player to 0 wins.
  • Tell students to explain the steps to play Penny Toss in their own words. Challenge them to calculate how many more tosses that need to land in the cup to win the game.
(3 minutes)
  • As student play the game circulate to assess their thinking. Ask questions like, "What is your total number of points? Who has more points? How many more points do you need to win?"
  • Check that students are taking turns and following the expectations to play the game with their partner.
(2 minutes)
  • Encourage students to reflect on the activity with a partner using the sentence frame, "The Penny Toss game was fun/hard/ easy because ____."
  • Send home a recording sheet, and tell students to play Penny Toss with someone at home.

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