Last Updated: Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Counting backwards - early level

What is this?

This is the second in a set of three activities which explore counting and creating sequences. These encourage children to use practical materials to count forwards and backwards and identify the number before and after in a given sequence.

Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) experiences and outcomes: Early level

  • I have explored numbers, understanding that they represent quantities, and I can use them to count, create sequences and describe order. (MNU 0-02a)

Purpose of the experience

  • This activity aims to develop children’s counting skills and to create sequences of numbers. It provides practical opportunities for children to recite numbers in order.
  • Section 6.4 of the national guidance document, Realising the Ambition, talks about children developing number sense. For more information on providing playful approaches to early learning use try Realising the Ambition.

Learning activities

  • Introduce children to the activity using a familiar counting song or rhyme. Use a song or rhyme which starts counting at a number other than one. For example, Ten in the Bed.

    Encourage children to talk about the counting in this song. Do they notice we count backwards instead of forwards?
  • Next, encourage the children to count backwards orally, starting with a given number and counting back to zero. For example, “three, two, one, zero”.
  • Repeat this and extend the start number. For example, “three, two, one, zero”. Then “five, four, three, two, one, zero”. Then “seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, zero”. You might want to use a visual support such as a counting stick to help children with this. Some children might like to clap or stamp as they say the numbers.
  • Now, repeat this activity using a finish number other than zero. For example, six to three, five to two, seven to four. Again, you might want to use a counting stick to help children with this activity or encourage children to clap or stamp as the say the numbers. You could use a marker to show the start and finish on the counting stick.
  • Finally, take turns to say the numbers with the children. You could start by saying the start number “ten”, then the children will say “nine”, you will say “eight” and the children say “seven” and continue to zero. Repeat this several times with different start and finish numbers. Some children could do this with a partner. They could agree a start number and finish number and take turns to say each number in their sequence.

Extension activity

  • This activity can be extended to include numbers 20.

National benchmarks

Depending on a child’s individual stage of development and their prior learning, children will be working towards these benchmarks, by the end of early level.

  • Recalls the number sequence backwards from 20.
  • Identifies and recognises numbers from 0 to 20.
  • Orders all numbers forwards and backwards within the range 0 - 20.

Possible approach to assessing learning

The following questions could be used to ascertain a child’s progress:

  • Can the child count forwards from a given number?
  • Can the child take turns at counting within a given number sequence?
  • Can the child work confidently with numbers within the range 0 – 30?
  • The latest guidance from Education Scotland when planning approaches to assessment

A particular focus on the early level play pedagogy toolkit will support reflections on play pedagogy. Reflective questions and observations could include the following:

  • What is happening in terms of interactions, experiences and spaces?
  • Are children interacting and talking with others?
  • What would you do next to encourage reinforcement and/or extension of learning?
    Early Level Play Pedagogy Toolkit