Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Count by Fives

Sandi King
Bay District Schools


Counting by fives can be a challenge. This lesson gives students an opportunity to explore counting by fives in a variety of activities including using a hundreds chart and manipulatives.


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


- Hundreds chart and associated number cards

- Twenty cutouts of hands showing five fingers, numbered as described in the preparation section on this lesson plan

- String, yarn, or rope strung across the wall of the classroom from which to hang the hand cutouts

- 20 snap type clothespins

- Overhead projector and overhead pens

- Cassette tape and recorder

- Individual hundreds chart prints (See associated files)


1. Locate or make a hundreds chart and associated number cards.

2. Make twenty cutouts of hands showing five fingers. These should be cut from various colors of construction paper and be about the size of a kindergartener’s hand. Prepared dies are available for this purpose or trace a student’s hand and cut. Most kindergarteners are not yet able to cut these accurately enough for our purpose, but if your students have this capability, they may cut their own. A sample is available from the associated files.

3. Write numerals in counting order on the fingernail side of the hand cutouts being sure to write the 5 on the thumb. Continue with the second hand writing 6 – 10 with the 10 on the thumb. All twenty hands should have numerals written on them as described until reaching 100. An example is in the associated files.

4. Hang a string, yarn, or rope across the wall of the classroom from which to hang the hand cutouts.

5. Locate 20 snap type clothespins.

6. Locate an overhead projector and overhead pens.

7. Make a cassette tape recording of yourself counting by fives. This tape should have you counting in the normal rhythm used when counting by fives. Then direct students to touch each number on their individual hundreds chart as you count. Then invite students to count orally with you. Remind them to count using their quietest inside voice. This tape should contain oral counting by fives completed at least five times in various activities.

8. Download and print the individual hundreds chart from the associated files. You will need one for each student at the listening center.


Note: This lesson is to be completed after students have become fairly proficient in counting to one hundred by ones. This lesson is associated with the Beacon Unit Plan, Mr. President. A link to the unit is available in the extension section of this lesson plan.

Day 1

1. In large group, begin orally counting by fives. As you progress towards 100, invite students to count with you. Students who have already learned this skill may join in, but most students will only listen and wonder. Be sure that while you are counting, you use the rhythm pattern that naturally is associated with counting by 5s. Upon completion of your counting, question students as to what they think you were just doing? Introduce the term, counting by fives.

2. To demonstrate your explanation of counting by fives, use the hundreds chart. The chart should already be completed with all number cards from 1-100 in their proper place.

* Explain that since you are counting by fives, you only need the number cards that you say when you count to 5. Begin counting and removing the number cards 1, 2, 3, and 4. When you get to the number card 5, explain that it stays on the chart since it is number five. Now start counting again 1 (remove the 6 card), 2 (remove the 7 card), 3 (remove the 8 card), 4 (remove the 9 card), 5 (the 10 card stays on the chart since it is the one in the fifth place). Continue this procedure with 1 (remove the 11 card), 2 (remove the 12 card), 3 (remove the 13 card), 4 (remove the 14 card) 5 (the 15 card stays on the chart). Continue this process until you have removed all the cards from the hundreds chart that are not used when counting by fives.

* When the teacher reaches about 25, and the students understand the procedure, begin calling on individuals to come to the hundreds chart and count to five, removing the unnecessary number cards. Involve the students both orally and with movement in order to maintain interest and attention.

* Be sure to give formative feedback by affirming correct responses and guiding incorrect responses towards the correct answer. Examples of feedback responses are, “Yes, you knew to leave the 20 number card on the chart because you touched the 20 card when you counted to 5.” “Let’s count this again and see if the 19 number card needs to stay on the chart or come off.”

3. Now that only the number cards needed for counting by fives remain on the hundreds chart, invite the students to count with you. Be sure to point to each number card as the number is said. This oral counting should be the focus of the next couple of days. The more students hear and participate in the counting, the faster they will understand the pattern and remember the sequence.

* Our goal is to move this new counting skill into students' long-term memories. In order to do that, students must see and hear this counting in a variety of ways a multitude of times. Counting orally by fives should become your time filler. Count while waiting for students to wash hands, in the bus line, in the lunch line, while walking to P.E., etc. Make counting a game, but be careful to include everyone and make it a non-threatening game. Have only boys count, then only girls, then only students at a particular table, then everyone who has already washed their hands, then those waiting in line for their pencil to be sharpened, then only students wearing yellow, etc.

* The hundreds chart should be left in plain view for those students who need a little visual assistance. Note: Students normally have the most difficulty with the transition from 10 to 15 to 20. Be sure that you assist in this area until this transition is learned.

* Well stated formative feedback cements skills the student is learning. Take every opportunity to affirm correct counting, being certain to explain why the counting was correct. Corrective feedback is just as important as it is an opportunity to redirect student’s thinking. Be sure to encourage students to continue counting when corrections have been made.

* The teacher counting aloud with reluctant students is a great assistance. When counting individually, make an effort not to embarrass students who have not yet mastered the counting skill, but rather give the assistance needed for success.

4. During listening center, students should listen to the cassette tape you made of counting by fives. As they listen, students should follow along with their individual hundreds chart. Eventually students will be counting along with the tape, so be sure that the listening center is located in an area where this oral counting will not be distracting to others.

Note: If you are using this lesson plan as part of the Beacon Learning Center Unit Plan, Mr. President, begin the summative assessment of orally counting to one hundred by fives anytime you feel a student is ready to count. This is an individual assessment. Some students will be ready on day 1, while others will not yet be ready on day 2 and will need further instruction or practice. A tool for the summative assessment is available from the associated files that are part of the unit plan.

Day 2

1. In large group, review orally counting by fives by counting aloud and inviting students to join in. The hundreds chart should be visible to students to stimulate memory and to assist visual learners.

2. Now that students are beginning to be successful in counting by fives, inquire as to why they would need to know how to do this type of counting. As students give responses, affirm any answer that has to do with fives such as five fingers on a hand, five toes on a foot, or that a nickel is five cents. Explain that today we will demonstrate one reason for knowing how to count by fives. When we are counting fingers, we do not need to count every finger since we know that each hand has five fingers. We can count much faster and easier counting by fives. Demonstrate this fact using the Five Fingers Activity described below.

3. Five Fingers Activity:
You should have already hung a string along the wall of your classroom. Pass out the cutout hand shapes. Show the students the written 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 on each finger. This reinforces the fact that each hand has five fingers and makes the transition to counting by fives meaningful. The next hand has 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. It is very important that the numbers used to count by fives are written on the thumbs. See the associated files for an example.

* Students bring their completed hands to you as you request it. As each student brings his/her hand, remind students that we are counting by fives today, so instead of counting each finger by ones, we will count the entire hand and count by fives. Turn each hand over and fold the thumb in. Now you should see only the numerals needed for counting by fives. (See the example in the associated files.)

* Hang each hand in counting order on the string using a clothespin. As students bring their hands to you to add to the line, question them on why we can count these hands by five and which numeral will show on the hand.

* Give formative feedback affirming correct responses and guiding incorrect responses towards a correct answer. (See Day 1 above for examples.) As students explain their thoughts and ideas to you, the procedures and skill of counting by fives are being cemented in the student’s mind. Explanations are now a part of the FCAT, and teaching students to explain their thinking at this early level will assist students in knowing that explanations are part of showing that they understand what they are doing.

* Since most classrooms will not have exactly twenty students needed for each student to have one turn adding a hand to the line, teachers must use individual strategies for completing the counting line. If there are more than twenty students in class, one student may prepare the hand while another gives the explanation. If there are less than twenty students in class, multiple hands may be given, or the teacher attaches the remainder of the hands while select students explain.

* Once all the hands have been added to the line, select students to direct the oral counting by pointing to the appropriate numeral (thumbs) on the line.

4. Continue counting orally throughout the day as described in Day 1, step 3 in Procedures. Remember the importance of formative feedback and use this strategy as often as possible.

5. Continue the assessment as described at the bottom of Day 1.


Student’s oral counting skills are formatively assessed with each activity. The importance of formative feedback has been discussed in step 3 of Procedures on Day 1 with examples of affirmative and corrective feedback given.

If you are using this lesson plan as part of the Beacon Learning Center Unit Plan, Mr. President, begin the summative assessment of orally counting to one hundred by fives anytime you feel a student is ready to count. A tool for this summative assessment and instructions for implementation are available from this associated files that are part of the unit plan. (See Extensions.)


1. 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 unit’s 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).

2. Students can arrange numeral cards in the correct counting order counting by fives.

3. Use a washable marker to write the numerals for counting by fives on the back of students hands. Then students line themselves up in the correct counting order showing their assigned numerals from their hands.

4. Use feet and toes instead of hands and fingers for these counting activities.

5. Divide the students into groups with five students in each group. As the teacher calls out a number used counting by fives, the students team up to show that many fingers or toes. For instance, if the teacher says 35, three students hold up both hands and one other student holds up one hand. Any combination equaling 35 is considered correct and allows for students to show and explain their individual methods.

Attached Files

Hundreds charts and example of numbered finger cutouts     File Extension: pdf

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