One counting game that I like to play with my students is called Count Around. (I do not remember where I heard of this game, but I did not make this one up.) In this game, we all stand around in a circle, and then begin counting. You pick a child to be first, and that child says “One.” The next child says, “Two,” etc. Whenever you get to a multiple of ten (a zero hero number), then the child that says it has to sit down. The game continues until there is only one child standing. You may have to count to 100 several times to get a winner. It goes faster with smaller groups, but can be done whole group if desired; that is the way we play it.
Another thing that we like to do is count to 100 by singing along with the “1-100” song on my Musical Math CD or DVD. (The same song is also on my Jumpin’ Numbers and Shakin’ Shapes CD/DVD.) We dance along to it. It’s fun! We also use the song for a clean-up song sometimes. The children like to beat the end of the song by getting everything cleaned up before the song ends when it reaches 100. But this year, my kids seem to always stop cleaning just to dance along, so that doesn’t work so well as far getting their toys cleaned up anymore. Sometimes, I also put it on when a bunch of kids want to get a drink or put away a jacket, etc. They like it so much that they come on back to join us quicker. The only thing is that I don’t want them to run in the classroom, so I have to keep reminding them of that. Also, if you use the song too often, it loses its magic for those purposes, since they get a little tired of it after a while if it is over used.
Another thing that we do is use the Zero Hero cone puppet that I have to help us count to 100 on Zero Hero Days (the numbered days of school in multiples of ten, like day 20 or 30, etc.) I point to each number on the 100 chart with the stick side of the puppet, and when I get to a multiple of ten, the puppet pops out, and the kids all jump up from their seated positions. Then, I make the puppet bounce, or jump, or wiggle, or turn around, etc., and the kids mimic the movements of the puppet. When I lower him back into his cone, then the kids sit back down, and we do it again. We pop up every time we come to a multiple of 100, and the kids do whatever the puppet does until he goes back down. We continue counting until we reach the number of the day.
I also made up a new game called, “Blast Off!” I haven’t tried it yet, but it is all ready to go on Monday! To make the game, I put different sets of numbers in large print on card stock paper. For example, one card might say, “25, 26, 27, 28, 29, ____.” Another might say, “42, 43, 44, 45, ____.” I mixed the cards up. I also wrote the words “Blast Off!” on four different cards with a picture of rocket. I mixed them up with the other cards, leaving one card at the end of the pile. You play the game whole group. You show the kids the cards one at a time. They try to read the numbers and tell what comes next. When you come to a “Blast Off!” card, the teacher then moves to a different side of the room, and the children all turn to face him or her, and the game continues, with different children now at the “front” and “back.” Every time one of these blast off cards comes up, I rotate to a new side of the group. The last blast off card puts me back at the front of the room.