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One, Two, Three--Go

Number and Operations
Grace M. Burton
Location: unknown

After reviewing the numbers 2 and 3, students construct and identify sets of one. They compare sets of one, two, and three objects and record a set of three in chart form.

Begin the lesson by having the students sings, "Catching a Fish." Next, teach the students to recite the nursery rhyme "Jack Be Nimble." Ask a volunteer to act out the rhyme by hopping over something [such as a stack of connecting cubes] that represents a candlestick. You may wish to use the student's name in the verse.

Ask, "How many students jumped?" [One.] Can you hold up one finger? [Check to see that all the students can do this.] Then say the rhyme again with other student volunteers. Now tell the students to listen for the word "go," When they hear it, they are to clap their hands three times. Say, "One, two, three--go" and watch to see which students can clap three times. To extend the learning opportunity, call on volunteers to name a motion and say "One, two, three--go!" to indicate when to begin the motion.

Show the students the numeral 1, then give directions such as, "Wave one hand," "Stomp your foot one time," and "Blink one time." Next, tell the students you will show them a number and they are to drop that many counters into the bowl. Ask for a volunteer to begin, and show him or her the numeral 1. Ask, "How many counters will you drop into the bowl? [One] Encourage the other students to count as the counter is dropped. Call on several other volunteers to drop counters as you display the numerals 1, 2, and 3 in random order.

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Now ask the students to look at the numeral 1, which you have displayed. (You may wish to use the numeral cards.)

pdficonNumeral Cards 

Tell them that this figure means "one." Turn your back to the students and trace the figure in the air, then encourage them to do it with you. Sing the numeral writing song as you make the numerals named in the song. Now spray canned whipped cream on a plastic work surface and model how to draw the numerals 1, 2, and 3 in the canned whipped cream. Allow the students several minutes to do this. As you close this section of the lesson, you may wish to remind all the students to go to the numeral-writing station during the day to write "1," "2," and "3" in the sand.

Next, give each student a copy of the Numbers to 5 Activity Sheet and some counters.

pdficonNumbers to 5 Activity Sheet 

Ask the students to put as many counters into each section as the number indicates. (Although the numerals 0, 4, and 5 have not yet been discussed, some students may wish to try completing these sections as well. Alternatively, you can fold back these sections so they cannot be seen.)

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After they have finished, give the students their Show How Many Activity Sheet.

pdficon  Show How Many Activity Sheet 

Ask them to look for the column with a "1" at the top, and then to color in one row, starting at the bottom row. Circulate as they work. Encourage the students to compare the three colored rows.

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Then collect the charts or tell the students to put the chart where it will be available for future lessons.

Assessment Option 

Reflecting on the students' understanding and skills will help you plan remediation activities for the students not yet reaching the lesson goals. This information will also be useful when planning extension activities for the students who have mastered the learning objectives.


  1. Pose the following Challenge question: How can you change a group of three to a group of one?
  2. Move on to the next lesson, Finding Four.

Questions for Students 

1. What new number did we talk about today? Can you show me that many fingers?

[One; students should be able to hold up one finger.]

2. Can you count to three? What number did you say first? Next? Next?

[One, two, three.]

3. Show one finger. Now show one more. How many fingers are you showing now?


4. Show me a set of one and a set of two. Which group has more? How can you tell?

[The set of two has more.]

5. How can you change a group of two to a group of one?

[Take away one.]

6. When you count, what number comes after two? Before two?

[Three; one.]

7. How did you show "1" on your chart? What is different in the way you recorded one and the way you recorded two?

8. Where on the chart is the number 1? Can you point to the number as you say its name?

9. Listen as I ring this bell (or tap this drum or hit this triangle). How many sounds did you hear?

[One, two, or three.]

10. Can you find a "1" in the room? Can you find the number 2? 3? Where?

[Possible answers include on the clock, on the board, or on my paper.]

Teacher Reflection 

  • Which students have learned the meaning of each of the numbers studied so far? What are the next appropriate goals for them?
  • re there students still unable to count out one, two, or three objects? What should I do at this time to help them reach this goal?
  • Which students are not yet able to count by rote to five? What experiences do they need next?
  • Which students are not yet able to count rationally to three? What experiences do they need next?
  • Which students were able to identify the numerals to 3? Which can write all of them?
  • Which students were not yet able to write the numerals to 3? What instructional experiences do they need next?
  • Which students were able to compare a set of one with sets of two and three? Which students were not yet able to do this? What learning activities should I plan for them?
  • What adjustments will I make the next time that I teach this lesson?
Number and Operations

Focus on Two

A nursery rhyme provides a context for using the number 2. Students make groups of two, write the numeral 2, and record a group of two on a personal recording chart.
Number and Operations

Three in a Set

In this lesson, students construct sets of three, compare them with sets of two, and write the numeral 3. They also show a set of three on their recording chart.
Number and Operations

Finding Four

Students explore the number 4. They make sets of four, write the numeral 4, and compare sets of four to sets of one, two, and three.
Number and Operations

Here's a Handful

Students construct sets of up to five items, write the numeral 5, identify sets of five, and record "5" on a chart. They also play a game that requires recognizing the numerals to 5. This lesson provides opportunities for connecting mathematics with music.
Number and Operations

Zero Our Hero

Students explore sets of zero items and practice writing the numbers 0 through 5. Students count back from five, identify sets of up to five items, and record "0" on a chart. They also construct sets of up to five items.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Construct groups of one, two, and three objects.
  • Identify and write the numerals 1, 2, and 3.
  • Compare sets of one with sets of two and three items.
  • Record a group of one on a graph.

NCTM Standards and Expectations

  • Count with understanding and recognize "how many" in sets of objects.
  • Develop a sense of whole numbers and represent and use them in flexible ways, including relating, composing, and decomposing numbers.
  • Develop understanding of the relative position and magnitude of whole numbers and of ordinal and cardinal numbers and their connections.
  • Use multiple models to develop initial understandings of place value and the base-ten number system

Common Core State Standards – Mathematics

-Kindergarten, Counting & Cardinality

  • CCSS.Math.Content.K.CC.A.3
    Write numbers from 0 to 20. Represent a number of objects with a written numeral 0-20 (with 0 representing a count of no objects).

-Kindergarten, Counting & Cardinality

  • CCSS.Math.Content.K.CC.C.6
    Identify whether the number of objects in one group is greater than, less than, or equal to the number of objects in another group, e.g., by using matching and counting strategies.

-Kindergarten, Counting & Cardinality

  • CCSS.Math.Content.K.CC.C.7
    Compare two numbers between 1 and 10 presented as written numerals.

-Kindergarten, Algebraic Thinking

  • CCSS.Math.Content.K.OA.A.3
    Decompose numbers less than or equal to 10 into pairs in more than one way, e.g., by using objects or drawings, and record each decomposition by a drawing or equation (e.g., 5 = 2 + 3 and 5 = 4 + 1).

-Kindergarten, Algebraic Thinking

  • CCSS.Math.Content.K.OA.A.4
    For any number from 1 to 9, find the number that makes 10 when added to the given number, e.g., by using objects or drawings, and record the answer with a drawing or equation.

-Kindergarten, Number & Operations

  • CCSS.Math.Content.K.NBT.A.1
    Compose and decompose numbers from 11 to 19 into ten ones and some further ones, e.g., by using objects or drawings, and record each composition or decomposition by a drawing or equation (such as 18 = 10 + 8); understand that these numbers are composed of ten ones and one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, or nine ones.

Grade 1, Number & Operations

  • CCSS.Math.Content.1.NBT.B.3
    Compare two two-digit numbers based on meanings of the tens and ones digits, recording the results of comparisons with the symbols >, =, and <.

Grade 2, Number & Operations

  • CCSS.Math.Content.2.NBT.A.4
    Compare two three-digit numbers based on meanings of the hundreds, tens, and ones digits, using >, =, and < symbols to record the results of comparisons.

Common Core State Standards – Practice

  • CCSS.Math.Practice.MP4
    Model with mathematics.
  • CCSS.Math.Practice.MP5
    Use appropriate tools strategically.