Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Wormy Apple Counting Strips

For a long time now, I have been a big fan of using counting strips in the classroom.  They are a great way to increase a student's ability to rote count and gives them a fun way to practice a very important skill.  The other thing I love about counting strips is that you can use them to count forward or backward and can start and stop on any number you please.

Because I often work in the classroom co-teaching as well as doing interventions, some kids end up spending quite a bit of time with me and consequently if I don't keep my materials fresh, they get a bit bored.  So this year, I worked on updating some of my counting strips, adding new ones and ones that are shorter and longer.  I also made them much cuter than in the past and by printing a bunch of tiny heads, I turned many of them into worms.  Also instead of having them pull the counting strip through an index card or a scrap of paper, I made some apples instead.  This made counting strips feel fresh and new again and gave my students even more practice with important skills. 

I also had quite a group of students this year who needed a lot of practice with number writing so I also made these strips using a very cool dot to dot font.  Now kids who need number writing practice can trace these numbers before we put the strips together.

This seems to give kids a greater sense of ownership of these counting strips than when I just made them myself.  Even if I am the one doing the cutting and taping, they feel like they created it.  

 By making these counting strips cuter and getting the kids more involved, I have had more students who want to take them home and play (practice) with them there as well.  

I have used these in grades K-2 this year.  Here is a peak at how I have used them.


This makes a great whole class lesson for kindergarten.  I like to give them the 1-100 dot to dot sheet.  For kids who are not ready for the entire thing, I like to start them off with the numbers from 1-10 or from 1-20.  It is absolutely fine if some kids are working with smaller numbers and others are working with larger ones.  This is a great way to differentiate!  I also will start some kids off counting backwards by 1's long before others are ready at this age.  Just pull the strip in the opposite direction and they are counting backwards!  A big thing to remember with Kindergartners is that they should be counting starting at different numbers.  Make sure you don't always start from 1!

A great place to start with Kindergarten students
These short strips are also great for K and grade 1.  It is a VERY good way to work on pulling through the decade.  They are also less intimidating than a huge 1-100 or 1-120 strip!

First Grade

In first grade I really like making the 1-120 strip with the whole class and then have them use it different ways to practice rote counting forward and backwards by 1's.  I also use the strips pictured above a lot, especially when I am doing interventions on kids who need work pulling though those tricky decade numbers.  I also introduce some other skip counting strips in kindergarten paying particular attention to counting forward and backwards by 10's and counting by 5's. 

These skip counting strips help my students learn to count by 5's 10's and 2's.  I always have students who are ready for a challenge and they love trying to count by 3's!

 Second Grade

In second grade, it is my job to make sure students are FLUENT with the numbers to 120 at the beginning of the school year and ready to tackle numbers to 1000.  I also have them use the skip counting strips and go farther than I would make a K or first grader go.  Most students who were challenged by pulling through the decade in first grade are challenged by pulling through the century in second grade so I spend a lot of my time giving them counting strips that assure they develop this skill.  Just as before, I make sure kids can count forward and backwards by simply pulling the strips in the opposite direciton.

These strips are great for second graders or anyone who needs practice counting through the century mark!

Regardless of which grade I am using these in, there are always students who really struggle with putting them together and there are also students who need every second of math instruction I can give them so I often put the strips together for students.  Stored rolled up in a shoe box, counting strips usually last me about 2 years and I use them very regularly.  

Here is how I put them together: 

Cut strips apart and glue on worm head

Place a piece of tape over the gap

Fold the tape around the strip

I store them by winding them up with the tab on the outside that says what is on the strip and then paper clipping them together.  You can store a bunch of them in a shoe box this way and can always find what you need when working on interventions.  
Have you tried using counting strips with your students?  If you want to give these ones a try you can grab them from my TPT store!


  1. Super Cute!!! I am your newest follower! We're both math lovers I see, so I hope maybe we can get different ideas from each other...or since I am middle school, maybe we could collaborate on a blog sometime? :)
    Mixing it up in Middle