Lesson plan

My Counting Book

Art meets math in this lesson that builds number sense by having students write and illustrate counting books. Start with zero, and encourage students to be creative as they work their way to 20!
Need extra help for EL students? Try the Traffic Counting pre-lesson.
EL Adjustments
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Need extra help for EL students? Try the Traffic Counting pre-lesson.

Students will be able to write the numerals from zero to 20, and draw an accurate amount of items for each number.

The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
EL adjustments
(10 minutes)
  • Read aloud the story Anno's Counting Book by Mitsumasa Anno.
  • Pause on the first page and think aloud, "I see this page is mostly blank except for the river. There is nothing here. I see the number zero. Zero means none."
  • Continue to read the story aloud. Pause to count the number of objects on each page, and point out the total number of different items that appear on each page.
  • Tell students that today they will practice writing the numerals as they create their own counting books.
(10 minutes)
  • Review the procedure for writing two-digit numerals as a class.
  • Begin with the number 10. Have students show you ten fingers, and count them together. Model writing the numeral 10 on the board, thinking aloud as you model correct number formation. Say something like, “I start at the top, and draw a vertical line down. Next, I jump back to the top and draw a curved line to the left and keep going with a curved line back to the top to write a zero next to the one. Now you try it.”
  • Call out, “Hands in the air!” Students should join their hands in the air in front of them. Review the steps for writing the numeral 10 with the students as they trace the number in the air.
  • Tell students to pretend that one of their hands is a piece of paper. The finger on the other hand is an imaginary pencil. Have them write the numeral 10 on their hand and the rug.
  • Continue thinking aloud as you model writing the numerals and introducing the vocabulary. For example, as you write the number 12 say, "I start by writing a straight line down to write a one. Next I jump back to the top. Now, I'll draw a curved line to the right, a diagonal line down and finish with a horizontal line to the right."
  • Follow the same procedure to introduce the numbers 13–20. Emphasize that students should write the numerals from the top down.
(5 minutes)
  • Model the procedure for creating a counting book with full sheets of paper stapled together as a book.
  • Write "Our Counting Book by Room ____ " on the cover.
  • Begin with zero on the first page. Review the steps to correctly write the numeral zero. Ask whether students should draw any items on this page. Remind students that zero means none and no items should be drawn on this page.
  • Continue with the number one, modeling writing the numeral at the top of the page. Then, draw one thing, such as a star or cat, below the numeral.
  • Create a few more pages, writing a number and corresponding number of items sequentially on each page. Model double-checking your work, recounting for accuracy.
(15 minutes)
  • Distribute twelve half sheets of paper to each student stapled together to make a booklet.
  • Have students work independently to create a cover for their number book.
  • Have students turn to the first page and write the numeral zero with no items. Create a few more pages together as a class, using the front and back of the pages.
  • Allow students to work independently to create pages for numbers up to 20 as time allows. Provide a visual aid such as a number line for reference as students write the numeral.
  • Students can continue working on pages during subsequent math lessons or as a center activity.


  • Tape a number line on students' desks for reference.
  • Pull a small group to work on the number book while other students work independently.


  • Have students include the number word (eg., thirteen) as well as the numeral on the page.
  • Have students include tally marks on each page.
(5 minutes)
  • Circulate and support students. Reinforce that they are to write the numerals from top to bottom.
  • Collect the counting books and check that students are writing the numerals correctly, and have drawn an accurate number of items on each page.
(5 minutes)
  • Call students to the rug and acknowledge those who stayed focused on creating pages for the counting book during independent work time. Positively reinforce students with comments such as, “I liked the way ____ put her pencil at the top of the page, and wrote the number from top to bottom” or “I liked the way ____ double-checked her work by recounting the items after she drew them.”
  • Invite a few students to share a page from their number book with the class.

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