Number Rhymes

Age 3 to 5
Counting down from 10 and up to 10
Saying how many there are altogether
Children often enjoy singing and saying rhymes and telling familiar stories.

Adults could share the song 'Ten Green Bottles' in order to involve the children in singing and counting.


The Activity
Provide a collection of ten green bottles, partly filled with sand. Stand them in a row for all the children to see. Sing the song and act it out.

Encouraging mathematical thinking and reasoning:

What is happening to the number of bottles each time one falls?


Two bottles have fallen off the wall. How many are there left? How do you know that? What if you count the bottles on the wall and those that have fallen off? Can you see a pattern?


Opening Out
What if two fell off at once?
Imagine how many bottles there will be on the wall if three have fallen off.
What if we add five more bottles, how many would there be then?


Can you show on your fingers how many there are/how many will be left?
Can you find the numeral, dotty card or Numicon to match the number left?
Can you draw a picture/make a mark to show me how many bottles there are on the wall now?

The Mathematical Journey

Counting and cardinality:

  • using number words and language about counting e.g. none, zero, next door number/number neighbour
  • cardinality - saying how many there are altogether
  • showing on fingers how many there are

Linking symbols and amounts:

  • finding numerals to match the number left


  • counting them all to find out how many are left
  • using the language of subtraction: saying how many are left
  • knowing that one less is the next number counting backwards

Describing position:

  • using positional language e.g. on, off, next to, before, after, left, right


Development and Variation
If two fall off at once, children may realise they can count back to subtract: you could support this with a number line.
Children could show with fingers how many there will be.
Count up and down from a given number in the context of the number of children in the group e.g. there are normally ten children and two are away today so there are eight here.
Count sets and collections of objects and add or remove some by hiding objects under a cloth or in a bag.

Story, rhyme and song links
Five Little Ducks Went Swimming One Day, Ten Fat Sausages


Green plastic bottles partly filled with sand or water to weigh them down.
Numerals, dotty cards, Numicon.
Whiteboards and pens.
Camera or video camera for recording.

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