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Songs and Rhymes: Exploring Number

Step in Progression
Interaction Ideas (Songs and Rhymes)
Pre-counting
Use songs as a context for identifying more, less and the same. Examples of songs you could use are:
  • There were ten in the bed, and the little one said…
  • 5 little monkeys sitting in a tree, teasing Mr. Crocodile…
  • 5 little speckled frogs, sitting upon a log…Once each frog has jumped off the log, have the frogs jump back on one at a time.
As you sing, role play using children or stuffed animals. Stop several times during each song and question the children:
  • Are there more/fewer teddies on the floor or on the bed? How do we know?
  • Is it the same now? What do you think?
Adapt familiar songs so that the numbers 5 and 10 are not always the focus. For example, 5 little specked frogs can become 9 little specked frogs.
Remember to use Te Reo Māori for numbers/words (PDF, 69 KB)as you sing.
One-to-one counting

Use songs to develop children’s knowledge of the counting sequence and the skill of one to one matching. Use songs that have the numbers in order and support children to match these with their fingers or other objects.

Examples of songs you could use are:
  •  Here is a beehive, here are the bees…Vary the number of bees that come out of the hive each time; include children by asking “How many bees shall we have in our hive this time?” At the end of the song count the finger “bees” that are buzzing around.
  • 1,2,3,4,5,... Once I caught a fish alive…
  • One little, two little, three little taniwha… (to the tune of 10 Little Indians). Count down as well: 10 little, 9 little, 8 little taniwha….    
Remember to use Te Reo Māori for numbers/words (PDF, 69 KB)as you sing.
Counting sets
Use songs that emphasise groupings to focus children’s attention on the total number of items in a set.  
 
As you sing, use role play and stop several times during each song to count the objects. Question the children to help them link their counting to the number of items in a set. For example:
 
Ten fat sausages sizzling in the pan…
  • Let’s count the sausages left in the pan.
  • How many are there?
Five/ten little ducks went out one day…
  • Let’s count how many ducks came back.
  • How many has mother duck got now?
  • Vary the number of little ducks that accompany mother duck. Ask the children, how many babies does  mother duck take out today?
Happy birthday to you….
  • Let’s count the candles on your cake.
  • How old are you now?
Five brown buns in a baker's shop…
  • Let’s count the buns that are left in the shop.
  • How many do we have now?
  • Change the number of buns in the shop to focus on other numbers such 7 or 8. 
Counting from one to solve number problems
Adapt familiar songs to include addition and subtraction problems.  
 
Role play the songs/rhymes using children or toys and ask children to count these to solve the number problems.   For example:
 
The wheels on the bus go round and round…
  • After every verse stop the bus for people to get on or off. Ask the children to work out how many people are left: We had 5 people on the bus and 2 more are getting on. How many will be on the bus now? Let’s count to find out.
  • Involve the children further by asking them to choose how many people are getting on and off the bus each time.
5 little men in their flying saucers flew round the world one day…can be used in a similar way.
Counting on to solve number problems
Adapt familiar songs to include addition and subtraction problems. Encourage children to count on or back from the largest number to solve these problems.
 
Role play the songs/rhymes using children or toys. For example:
 
Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream…
  • Pair children up to make their own boat.
  • After every verse stop the boat for toys to get in or out. Ask the children to work out how many toys are left: We had 8 toys in the boat and 3 are getting off. How many will be in the boat now? Let’s count back from 8 to find out.

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