A terrific way to introduce counting activities to the class is to read,1, 2, 3 to the Zoo by Eric Carle.
His beautiful picture books have the qualities required for preschool and kindergarten children. In this story, brightly colored animals are riding on a train to their new homes at the zoo one elephant, two hippos, three giraffes, all the way up to ten birds.
This story shows all the animals riding on a train to the zoo and offers children a first introduction to numbers, number sets, addition and counting. This was Eric Carle’s first picture book and the reissue has a gatefold spread at the back of the book, featuring the whole animal train.
Use the story,”1, 2, 3 to the Zoo”, to focus children’s attention on:
- number sets
- ordinal numbers
- Background Paper – Cut 12″ x 18″ white paper in half lengthwise and then tape or glue the two pieces together
- Train pieces – Cut 9″ x 12″ colored construction paper into six 6″ x 3″ pieces to create
Train Picture 1
- When you demonstrate this counting activity, show the children how to leave a space for wheels and a space between each rectangle when they glue their train pieces on to the paper.
- The children draw animals in each train piece and print the corresponding numeral on their train to create their own number picture.
Sequenced Train Picture 2
- If you prefer to have the children sequence the animals in the trains, demonstrate the following.
- Show the children how to make one train piece at a time as they follow along.
- Start with one animal in the first train until you get to five animals in the last train.
- You may want to use the step-by-step drawing method depending on the drawing confidence of your students. Eric Carle’s illustrations are a great inspiration for animal drawings.
Train Picture sets
- Children build number sense when they participate in counting activities that have them create many of the same number set.
- Have them glue stickers on each train and then print the corresponding number above the train.
- This is an open-ended activity. One child may practice with sets of 4, while another student can build sets of 3.
Teach ordinal numbers
- Use the terms first, second, third, fourth and fifth when asking children to share about their pictures. “Tell me about the animals in your second train.”