EL Support Lesson

What Number Comes First?

In this math lesson, your students will get hands-on practice ordering numbers from 0-20. Can be used as a stand alone or support lesson for the **Counting to 20: Get 'Em in Order!** lesson plan.
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Counting to 20: Get 'Em in Order! lesson plan.
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This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Counting to 20: Get 'Em in Order! lesson plan.

Students will be able to count and order numbers 0-20.


Students will be able to explain how to order numbers from 0-20 using a number line.

(5 minutes)
  • Gather the class together for the start of the lesson.
  • Display the cover Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3! by Bill Martin, Jr. and share the title, author, and illustrator information with the class.
  • Read aloud the first part of the book (stop once the number reaches 20), pausing to take special notice of how the numbers are ordered.
  • Have students turn and talk to share with a partner answers to the following questions, "Do you think the numbers went into the tree in a special order? Which number came first? How about last?" (review the images from the book showing the numbers in the tree).
  • Say, "Today, we are going to practice putting our own numbers in order!"
(5 minutes)
  • Using the example number line, model counting from 0-20.
  • Say, "When we count, there is always an order. Explain that order is the arrangement of things in a particular pattern or sequence. When we count, we want to count each number in order from the smallest number to the greatest or biggest number."
  • Cut out and place the numbers 0, 1, 4, 3, 2, 5 on the board (using the numbers from the worksheet).
  • Say, "Look at these numbers. Let's count them aloud."
  • Count the numbers aloud and have students echo count after you. Pause and model a think aloud by saying, "I think something is wrong with our order."
  • Using the number line, model finding and putting the numbers in order by moving them into the correct sequence. Recount aloud with the class to double check the order.
  • Display the Vocabulary Cards and Glossary and explain the definitions of smallest and greatest. Point to the number zero and say, "This is the least or smallest number on the number line, see how it is all the way to left. Now let's look at number 20. It is the greatest or biggest number on the line, it is all the way to the right."
(5 minutes)
  • Write 10 blank boxes on the board in a line. Then place 10 number cards on the board (e.g., 10-20) out of order.
  • Explain that you need to order the cards on the blank number line from smallest to the greatest.
  • Point to the number 10 and ask students where do you think this goes? Have students turn and talk to share their ideas with a partner.
  • Point to each box in turn and ask students to give a thumbs up when you point to the box where the 10 should go.
  • As needed, review the concept that in this group of numbers 10 is the least and must start on the left.
  • Repeat the process with 11 and 12. Then, invite students up to place the remaining cards in order.
(15 minutes)
  • Explain that now students will get to work with a partner to make their own number lines.
  • Display the materials and go over the directions:
    • Place your strip of paper on the floor or table.
    • Cut out your numbers.
    • Order the numbers from smallest to largest on the number line.
    • Have a partner check that the numbers are ordered correctly.
    • Glue the numbers in place.
  • Send students to work.


  • Play counting songs or music videos in students home language (L1).
  • Allow students to count in their home language (L1).
  • Pair students together to create a shared number line.


  • Ask students to share with their partner what number would come next if the number line extended past 20.
  • Instruct students to explain to their partner how they know their number line is ordered correctly.
(5 minutes)
  • Assess if students are able to accurately order their number line by circulating around the room during the independent work time.
  • Collect work samples to take additional notes of student progress.
  • Ask guiding questions to assess student understanding, such as "What number comes next? How do you know? Which number comes before?"
(5 minutes)
  • Gather the class back together to close the lesson.
  • Display five numbers (out of order) on the board.
  • Ask students to turn and talk to a partner to share which number is the smallest.
  • Pass out personal whiteboards to each pair and tell the students to work together to write the numbers in order from smallest to largest.
  • As a group, write up the correct order of the numbers and review why ordering numbers is important (e.g., tells you what comes next or what comes before).

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