Beacon Lesson Plan Library

The Counting Caterpillar

Ann Nichols


The students practice counting orally to 100 by 1s, 2s, 5s, and 10s by participating daily in -The Counting Caterpillar- number line.


The student counts orally to 100 or more by 1s, 2s, 5s, and 10s using a hundred chart or concrete materials.


-Caterpillar face
-Numbered circles with pipe cleaner legs
-Counting sticks
-Rubber bands
-Tiny butterflies, hands, and stars pre-cut
-Pinczes, Elinor J. [One Hundred Hungry Ants]. Houghton Mifflin Co: New York, New York. 1993.
-Peanut Butter


1. Make caterpillar face and numbered circles with pipe cleaner legs.
2. Pre-cut designators (tiny butterflies for 2s, hands for 5s, stars for 10s.)
3. Prepare note to parents explaining the requests for 100 objects from home.


This mathematics lesson is part of a daily activity immediately following calendar activities. Students have daily practice with number recognition, number sequencing, counting by 1s, 2s, 5s, and 10s. Each day a counting stick is added to the counting container. On the tenth day, the sticks are bundled together in a group of ten to provide concrete, visual objects for the concept of counting by tens. On the caterpillar circles, each group of 2s is designated by placing 2 tiny butterflies above the number. A hand (holding up 5 fingers) designates each group of 5s. Each group of tens is designated by a change of color and a star.

1. Introduce the happy face of the caterpillar.

2. Explain how each day, the number of that school day, will be added to the caterpillar until we have been in school 100 days.
3. On the 100th day, there will be a celebration. Children will be given a plastic freezer bag and asked to bring in 100 objects from home to share with the class.

4. Read to them [One Hundred Hungry Ants] by Elinor J. Pinczes.

5. Make “Ants on a Log” with celery, peanut butter, and raisins.
After the 100th day, children will continue to count the caterpillar circles by 1s, 2s, 5s, and 10s, as part of their morning review after calendar activities

Activity Length: Ten minutes each day. On the 100th day, counting, reading, and snack activities will take the first 90 minutes of that morning (rotating 3 groups.)


Paraprofessional tests students individually by taking them into the kitchen area and asking them to count by 1s, 10s, 5s, and finally 2’s. Students demonstrate 70% mastery. They are given second and third chances up until the last nine weeks. An ongoing checklist is kept on each student.


As we start moving down the number line, I expose students to the concept of equations. When we count the sticks, I draw a set of 10 sticks on the board. For example, if the day was 27, I would draw 7 sticks matching one to one directly under the set of 10 sticks. I would ask a volunteer to come to the board and draw a circle around how many sticks were left without any one to one correspondence. Those sticks would solve the equation: 7+3= 10. It would take 3 more sticks to be added to the 7 sticks until we could make another bundle of 10.
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