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1, 2, 3...Count with Me!

One of the first mathematical skills children learn is rote counting. But what does that mean and how can you bring it to your preschool classroom? Read on to learn all about rote counting, activities for your classroom and how to track children's progress in rote counting.

What is Rote Counting?

Rote counting is the counting of numbers out loud in sequential order. This is different than understanding quantity or identifying numbers; in rote counting the only skill assessed is whether children can recite numbers in the correct order.

What rote counting is: siting in the blocks section and counting out loud.

What rote counting is not: sitting in the blocks section and counting how many square blocks a child sees

Why is it Important?

Rote counting comes before the ability to count objects. It is a crucial skill for adding and finding one more. In order to count objects, we have to know the order of counting (not to be confused with understanding 3 is more than 2, which is a skill learned later).

How to Incorporate Rote Counting in the Classroom

Songs (think of songs that include counting. Start with songs that count forwards (1, 2, 3,...) and then move to songs that go backwards (5, 4, 3,...):

  • 5 Little Monkeys (see video)

  • 5 Little Ducks

  • 5 Little Speckled Frogs


  • Counting as you line up

  • Count how long it takes to walk to the bathroom (kitchen, playground, etc.)

  • Count how long it takes to complete a task (clean up the toys, set the table)

Circle Time Games

  • Clap (Stomp, Snap, etc.) and Count

  • Hide and Seek

  • Count the date (April 28=count to 28)

How to Assess Rote Counting

If needed for a formal assessment: Download the rote counting tracker below. Print one for each child and track child's progress (if child doesn't meet 10, 20, etc. milestone list the date and the number child stopped at. For example: 4/28/21, #7; 6/1/21, #32).

Rote Counting Assessment

If you don't need to track for assessment or portfolios, don't worry about it! Keep counting out loud, keep practicing and don't stress! Kids will get it!

Rote Counting
Download PDF • 209KB


Rote counting is pretty simple to understand. Simply start counting and count often! Check for understanding and practice counting forwards, backwards and by 2s, 5s, and 10s. Make counting fun and children won't even realize they are learning!

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