Setting Up Counting Collections

Have you jumped on the counting collections bandwagon yet?  Because if you haven’t, you need to take the leap NOW!  Counting Collections is one of my absolute favorite parts of teaching math in first grade.  My kids learn so so much counting random objects each week…each May my mind is *blown* by the amount of growth in their counting skills, teamwork skills, skip counting skills, mental math skills, base ten understanding and notation/equation writing skills!  So much math jam packed into one activity.

So, have you been in the dark with this whole Counting Collections movement?  Read more about what it is and what it looks like in the classroom in this blog post.

This blog is dedicated to setting up and organizing Counting Collections in your classroom!

Collect all your random stuff 🙂

The first thing I did when I set up my Counting Collections shelf was go through old things to find stuff for kids to count.  Anything will work.  ANYTHING.  I pulled out math manipulatives at school that we never used (transportation counters, colored bears, colored cubes…).  At home, I went through my pantry to find things I could use (pasta, popcorn kernels, beans…).  I went through my kitchen and bathroom too and found toothpicks, q-tips, cotton balls…  Then, I went through my craft cabinets at home and at school and collected craft supplies I hadn’t used in forever: buttons, beads, sequins, pom poms…

And after all of that searching I ended up with over 30 different things for kids to count and hadn’t bought a thing.  And truth be told I didn’t even miss the stuff I grabbed from home and school–really, it was a great way to clean out! 🙂

Count your random stuff!

After I collected all 34 of my items, I got to counting.  I knew that since my first grade standard says kids should count to 120 most of my sets would need to be between 100 and 120 and 50 and 100.  My counting categories ended up looking like this…

1 – 20: 3 sets
20 – 50: 4 sets
50 – 100: 9 sets
100 – 120: 7 sets
120 – 200: 7 sets
200 – 500: 4 sets

Obviously, you do what works for your kids, but this has worked fairly well for me for the last several years.  I used bigger items for smaller sets and smaller items for bigger sets just to help with storage.  And as I counted, I recorded how many I counted for each set on my Counting Collections key (editable template is included in my Counting Collections packet.)

Label Your Tubs

After everything was counted and recorded, I started labeling.  Labeling makes me unexplainably happy.  And add color coding to that labeling and I’m on cloud 9! 🙂  I like to go in rainbow order so pink/red are my low babies and blues and purples and whites are my high babies.  That just keeps things easy for me.

For my original tubs, I simply wrote on neon labels with a sharpie and added them to our tubs…

But honestly, those labels just didn’t stick as well as I had hoped.  By the end of our first counting collections year, they were peeling off.  So, I made and printed my own labels on colored paper or white paper based on my coding system and taped the labels on with clear packing tape.  SO MUCH BETTER and more durable too!

And the photos on the labels make it super colorful and easy for my little people to use!  I’ve recently added these labels to my Counting Collections packet so redownload if you already own this packet for the update!

Get Your Count On!

It’s as easy as that!  You’re ready to launch Counting Collections!  My packet includes lesson plans for helping you establish launching and sharing routines.

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