Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Counting Down to Christmas Vacation

Jane Seevers


Students write numerals on a snowman and count off the days until Christmas vacation, using cotton balls to mark the days.


The student reads and writes numerals to 10 or more.

The student counts backward from ten to one.


-Copy of snowman (see associated file for example)
-Ten cotton balls for each child
-Small pieces of black, brown and orange construction paper to decorate the snowman
-Ziplock sandwich bag for each child
-Large copy of snowman drawn on chart paper for teacher demonstration


1. Gather materials (copy of snowman for each child, cotton balls, Ziplock bags). Another option might be to give them only one cotton ball each day. This would eliminate having to keep up with the baggies.
2. Draw large snowman on large paper (bulletin board paper, poster board,etc.) for demonstration.
3. Decorate the snowman and draw 10 circles on his body.
4. Glue students' snowmen onto construction paper.


Day One:
1. Discuss with children how many school days are left until Christmas vacation (ten). Use a calendar to count the days.

2. Show large copy of the snowman and display it so that all the children can see it.

3. Explain how to use the snowman and cotton balls to count down the school days till vacation. For example, you might say, -Each day, from now until vacation, we will glue a cotton ball on one of the snowman's circles. When we count how many circles don't have cotton balls, we will know how many days are left until vacation. Is there another way we can tell how many days are left?- Enlist responses. Accept any answers that are reasonable.

4. Pass out student copies of snowman.

5. Write the numerals in descending order, ten through one,in the circles on the snowman. ( As the teacher writes the numeral in a circle on the large snowman, the children should write the same number in the circle son their snowmen.) Circlulate and make sure children are doing this correctly. Offer feedback and guidance especially to those who need help.

6. Demonstrate to the children how they will cover a number each day in their countdown, beginning with the highest number they have written.

7. Spend some time practicing counting down.

8. Have dach child count out ten cotton balls and place them in a Ziplock bag.

9. Allow children to decorate snowmen as they choose.

Days 2-10:
1. Each day, at a specified time, students glue a cotton ball onto their snowman to cover the highest number.

2. Ask the children how many days are left and write this information on or near the large copy of snowman as students dictate. (Example: There are eight days left until Christmas vacation.) You can also use the calendar as another reference for counting.

3. Circulate and offer help as students glue on their cotton balls. Call on different students to count forward and backward aloud. Note those that have problems.


1. Check to see if students have written the numerals on their snowmen correctly. Allow those that didn't another opportunity to write correctly.
2. Ask individual students each day to count forward and backward using their snowmen. Note those that have difficulty and offer feedback and extra practice time.
3. Ask students throughout the day to read the sentence that is next to the snowman. ( There are eight days left until Christmas vacation.) Note those who have difficulty with the written out number word. They will need additional practice.


-Games, activites, and practice involving counting backwards, reading numerals, and writing numerals is necessary for this lesson to be successful.
-Dictation activities during journal writing, morning message, etc. provide experience children need in order to be successful and feel confident during the dictation portion of the countdown.
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