Beacon Lesson Plan Library

We're Counting at the Zoo!

Lore Davis
Alachua County Schools


Students use sets of concrete materials to represent, count and match quantities to 10 or more given in verbal or written form while participating in hands-on activities.


The student dictates or writes simple informational texts (for example, descriptions, labels, lists).

The student counts up to 10 or more objects using verbal names and one-to-one correspondence.

The student reads and writes numerals to 10 or more.

The student uses sets of concrete materials to represent quantities, to 10 or more, given in verbal or written form.


-[1,2,3 to the Zoo] a counting book by Eric Carle, 1968, New York, Philomel Books, ISBN 0-399-20847-X.
-10 pieces of 9x6 inch laminated pieces of paper to use as train
-Math journal for each child
-Pencil for each child
-Cards numbered 1-10
-5 bowls of zoo animal counters (20 in each bowl)
Zoo animal counters are replicas of zoo animals (approximately one half inch to two inches in length) used for math and language activities. These animals can be purchased through many teacher catalogs, such as Lakeshore Learning Materials, 2695 E. Dominguez St., Carson, CA 90810, 1-800-421-5354.


Get all items needed listed in the materials list.


This lesson requires prior knowledge counting up to 10 objects and is Day 3 of the unit, A Counting We Will Go!

Prior to beginning the lesson, please review the previous day's lesson, M&M Counting Fun. Remind students that yesterday they began a counting unit by identifying numbers, counting out specified numbers of M&M candies and then making a record of M&M's counted in their math journals.

Pour out a bowl of M&M candies onto the table. Use the bowl of 30 M&M's from the previous day's lesson. Roll two dice and choose a student to pick a color and show the designated amount of M&M's on a mat. Have the student record the number and draw the M&M's on the dry erase board. Continue in this way until each student in the group has had an opportunity to participate.

1. Share [1,2,3 to the Zoo] with the students during small group instruction. Have the children count along as they look at each page. Identify the number on each page after the items are counted. Have the children repeat the number.

2. Share the book again with the students. Students should count the objects on each page again. Bring the students' attention to the bottom of the page and ask them if they notice what is happening each time that a new car of animals is added. By the third group of animals the students might notice the pattern that is occurring. One more animal is added to each group of animals. If they do not notice the pattern, bring it to their attention. This can be done by showing that there is one elephant on the first train car, two hippopotamus on the second car, three giraffe on the third car, etc. Count to see how many animals there are in all.

3. Next, using the zoo animals as their concrete materials, have the students take turns showing a specified number of zoo animals on each mat. For example, place a number 1 card on the first car and then choose a child to place one zoo animal on that car. Then, place the number 2 card on the second car and have another student place 2 animals on that car. Continue in this manner until all ten mats/cars have been filled sequentially. As the students work together to complete this activity, discuss the pattern of one more on each new animal being placed on the next car. As the students work, the teacher will be doing a formative assessment to see if the student is using one to one correspondence and concrete materials to represent and count quantities to 10 or more objects.

4. Students will work in cooperative groups of two to make their own individual zoo trains as depicted in the book. This will be done in their math journals. The students will draw a train with ten cars. The students should write the numbers 1-10 (one number in each car) sequentially. They may need assistance with this. The students will then draw the designated number of animals in each car. Students could actually place the designated number of animal counters on each car and then move each one as it is drawn. Working in cooperative groups gives the students an opportunity to communicate their thoughts as they perform the task. The teacher will act as a facilitator during this activity. As students work, the teacher will be doing formative assessment to see if the student is using one to one correspondence as he/she identifies, counts, creates sets with up to 10 or more concrete objects and tells or writes about the sets.

5. As a closing activity, students should then return to group and share their zoo trains with the group. The group can help count the animals in each train.


Teacher observation of student records (math journal) and teacher observation of student counting the number of animals on each train car. The student should identify the written number and the number of animals on each car of the train. The two performance levels are 1) mastered (student is able to use objects to represent whole numbers to 10) and 2) being developed (student is able to use objects to represent some whole numbers to 10). This coincides with the kindergarten report card. The teacher will also be conducting formative assessment throughout the lesson as indicated in the procedures.


1. Math - While working in a small group of 4-6 students have students roll a dice and read the number of the dice. Next, the student will place the designated number of zoo animal counters on a work mat. Go around the group until each student has had the opportunity to roll the dice and match the number on the dice to the number of zoo animal counters on a work mat. After each student has had at least one opportunity to do this, have students work in cooperative groups of 2-3 students taking turns rolling the dice and placing the specified number of counters on a work mat. They should continue in this fashion for 10-15 minutes.
2. Language - Have students sing along the traditional song, "Ten Little Indians." It is best if the song is written on a chart for students to follow along. Having students take turns pointing to the words as the song is sang reinforces the fact that when reading, a person must follow print left to right and then sweep down to the next line. The charted song can also be used to discuss which number comes before a specified number
(What number comes before two little Indians?).
3. Science - Brainstorm things students know about zoo animals. Make a language experience chart (early childhood teachers are familiar with this kind of chart) in which the teacher writes down the things students know about zoo animals. After reading the book, brainstorm the new things the students learned about zoo animals.
4. The Beacon Unit Plan associated with this lesson can be viewed by clicking on the link located at the top of this page or by using the following URL: Once you select the unitís link, scroll to the bottom of the unit plan page to find the section, Associated Files. This section contains links to the Unit Plan Overview, Diagnostic and Summative Assessments, and other associated files (if any).
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