“Ah numbers–the letters of math.” Numbers are integral to any kids development, so a number storytime is a no-brainer. Personally when planning stories and rhymes, I usually stick to the Number 5 as the largest number we talk about. Little kiddos can usually understand the concept of small numbers, but anything past the Number 5 can get a bit too hard to truly understand. So best to keep it simple!! Here’s some of my favorites activities to use and stories to share:
My go-to number book for a few years now has been “5 Stinky Socks” by Jim Benton. I think it flew under most people’s radar, but it’s hilarious! I do this one as a flannel, and it’s great to count the socks between pages. The monster also does gross things with his socks, like wash dirty dishes and pulls them out of a garage can. So I bring some props up with me, like a dish from the break room and my trash can, and all the kids give a big “Ewwwww!” sound. Kids love how funny this one gets!
My new favorite is “Stack the Cats” by Susie Ghahremani. Books that count from 1-10 are usually too boring for my group of kiddos, but this one is great since we can break larger numbers down into groups of 3. And she makes the larger numbers interesting, like “4 cats teeter, 5 cats totter” so instead of just counting again we can do an action, like pretending to fall over. I don’t know if there’s any other picture books that deal with counting piles, so it’s just another great thing about this book. You can find out the cheatie way I make my flannels by going here.
Another new favorite I use for this storytime is “Swallow the Leader” by Danna Smith. I don’t use flannels for this one, since it’s kinda interactive. At the end of each page, we do an action to mimic the actions of the fish, and then we all count together how many fish are on the page. At the end of the book, we clap as the fish get eaten up!! Check out my post here about how to best use interactive picture books. This one goes up to 10, so maybe save this for older kiddos, or do like I do and kinda rush the last five a bit.
“Count My Cupcakes 123” is a new favorite and works great with the littlest kiddos. And the cupcakes are adorable!! This is the first time I made my flannels giant, and it works MUCH better in a larger group.
Songs and Rhymes
There’s no shortage of counting rhymes out there, so I’m just going to put up my favorites.
As I mentioned in my “Color Storytime” post, I’ve done “5 Little Ants” or “One Little Fishie” with different colored ants/fish on the flannelboard. After each verse of the rhyme/song, we’ll remove (or add depending on the rhyme) one item from the board, and I’ll ask the kiddos what color it is, and we’ll keep going from there until we’re done. It’s also a great way to work on numbers, since we all count together how many animals are left on the board before each verse.
We’ve also done “5 Little Fishies Teasing Mr. Shark” and “5 Little Popcorn Seeds” or “5 Little Hot Dogs”–those are always big hits because they involve big motions, like popping or snapping at fish. At the end of each verse we count how many items we have left.
So I always end my storytime with some sort of activity. For numbers, its pretty simple and I have two I usually pick from. The first one is really easy–I have the kids take turn rolling a giant dice. Then we do different actions based on the number it landed on–so if it landed on a 4, we would do either clap four times, or jump four times, or give 4 high fives, etc. Really simple!
The other one is a bit more complicated. I fill up our kitty pool with about an inch of water. Then I release some foam fish that I bought and give kids either sand shovels or large serving spoons I’ve stolen from the break room. The kids then go “fishing” but they have to count how many fish they catch. Beforehand, we have a talk about if we are “inside or outside” and since we are inside we can’t really splash water everywhere. And we also talk about how our pond is “catch and release” so after you catch some fish, you need to throw them back to let other kids catch them.
I also recently found a new activity that’s pretty easy via Pinterest. Just print out some your numbers with the correct amount of dots and then hand out some clothespins. Have your kiddos pin the right amount of clothespins to each number. This one went over GREAT every time we did it!!
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