Friends You Can Count On

The Ministry is migrating nzmaths content to Tāhurangi.           
Relevant and up-to-date teaching resources are being moved to Tāhūrangi ( 
When all identified resources have been successfully moved, this website will close. We expect this to be in June 2024. 
e-ako maths, e-ako Pāngarau, and e-ako PLD 360 will continue to be available. 

For more information visit


This is an activity based on the picture book Friends You Can Count On.
This book may no longer be available for purchase.

Achievement Objectives
NA1-1: Use a range of counting, grouping, and equal-sharing strategies with whole numbers and fractions.
NA1-2: Know the forward and backward counting sequences of whole numbers to 100.
Specific Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to identify pairs of features for counting by 2s.

Students will be able to create equal sized groups and count the total set either by counting all or by skip counting.

Students will be able to create models of equal sized groups using materials to represent features in a book illustration.

Description of Mathematics

Skip counting is related to multiplication through the repeated addition of equal groups.

Skip counting is a method of finding the total of a set that can be arranged in equal sized groups.

Required Resource Materials

Friends You Can Count On by Debbie Tipuna 
This book may no longer be available for purchase.

Large number line (Material-Master 4-8) and pegs

Pipe cleaners or ice-block sticks


Counting On Animals

This activity is based on the picture book Friends You Can Count On

Author: Debbie Tipuna
Illustrator: Debbie Tipuna
Publisher: Reed (2005)
ISBN: 1 86948 538 6 

The numbers 1-10 are presented in colourful illustrations of NZ native anthropomorphized animals engaged in recreational activities in a variety of recognisable contexts such as beach and bush.

Lesson Sequence:

  1. Prior to reading, warm up with some counting to ten by asking students to look at the cover with you.
    How many fingers is the gecko holding up? 
    Then introduce the idea of pairs, things that appear in groups of two.
    What pairs can we see on the gecko? (hands, nostrils, eyes, pupils)
    What pairs have you got? (shoes, knees, elbows etc.)
  2. Share the book with your students counting the animals and looking for pairs on each page.
  3. Select a page to revisit in detail, such as the 4 yellow-eyed penguins. Ask students to identify any pairs that they can find. Select one of the features, such as feet, and ask
    How many feet are there altogether in this picture? There are 4 penguins and they each have 2 feet. 
    Using 4 colours of counters place a counter on top of the illustration covering each pair of feet in one colour. Select 4 pegs and ask a student to put a peg at each number you reach as you count the pairs.
    There are four pairs. Let's count. 1, 2 (place peg), 3, 4, (place peg) 5, 6, (place peg,) 7, 8, (place peg).
    Let's count in 2s (using the pegged numbers) 2, 4, 6, 8.
    There are 8 feet altogether. 4 pairs is 8 because we added 2 plus 2 plus 2 plus 2. That’s 4 groups of two.
  4. Repeat with another feature on the page, such as the skateboard wheels, relating the picture pairs to the number of groups to the number of pegs on the number line to the skip counting sequence to the total as the last number said in the counting sequence.
  5. Although the illustrations of animals lend themselves neatly to skip counting in 2s: eyes, legs, wings, feet, paws etc. there are also other features that can be used such as 4 toes on each foot for the 5 tui, or 6 legs on the 7 crawlies in the creek on the kiwi page. Photocopy pages and provide students with number lines and materials to work in pairs to find grouped features and record their findings. The photocopy page, the materials and the piece of card for recording can all be in a bag that can be taken out to use as an independent activity. The card with the recording can then be displayed as 'The Groups We Found'.
  6. Students can create scenes with animals and challenge other students to find the groups within their drawings (4 weta with 6 legs each, 5 ants with 2 antennae each etc.) On the back they can have recorded their answers or clues.
Add to plan

Log in or register to create plans from your planning space that include this resource.

Level One