Countdown to Zero

  • number chart that includes 0
  • small objects (buttons)
  • small plastic or paper cups
  • small ramp made out of books
  • count
  • none
  • zero

MA Standards:

English Language Arts/Speaking and Listening/SL.PK.MA.1: Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners during daily routines and play.
Mathematics/Counting and Cardinality/PK.CC.MA.1: Listen to and say the names of numbers in meaningful contexts.
Mathematics/Counting and Cardinality/PK.CC.MA.2: Recognize and name written numerals 0-10.
Mathematics/Counting and Cardinality/PK.CC.MA.3: Understand the relationships between numerals and quantities up to ten.

Head Start Outcomes:

Approaches to Learning/Cooperation: Joins in cooperative play with others and invites others to play.

PreK Learning Guidelines:

Mathematics/Number Sense 1: Listen to and say the names of numbers in meaningful contexts.
Mathematics/Number Sense 2: Connect many kinds/quantities of concrete objects and actions to numbers.

Countdown to Zero

© Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Department of Early Education and Care (Jennifer Waddell photographer). All rights reserved.

Skill Focus: Counting, Speaking and Listening, Vocabulary

Display the number chart that includes 0, point to the number 2, and ask children to hold up two fingers. Do the same with the number 1. Then point to the number 0. Explain that the number 0 means none. Ask children how they would show 0 fingers. (hold up a closed fist)

Place two <buttons> under a cup. Ask, How many buttons are under the cup? Have the child lift the cup and roll the objects down the book ramp as you count. Then, when the cup is empty, ask, How many buttons are under the cup now? (zero) Continue with other amounts.

English Language Learners: Have children count with you in their home language as you raise your fingers one at a time. When children have said the number in their home language, say the number in English. Have children say the number in English after you. Repeat as children gain mastery.

Adaptation: For groups with older children, you may want to take the activity a step further and have partners line up three cups, upside down. One partner turns around so his/her back is facing the partner. The second partner places a few objects under two of the cups, but leaves one empty. Partner one turns around and guesses which cup has zero objects and then turns over the cups to see if he/she guessed correctly. As the cups are turned over, have the child send each button down the ramp as he/she counts the number of buttons found.

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