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Family Math Activity: Counting with Fishes

Colorful cutouts shaped like fish, each labelled with a number from one to 10, are lined up on a wooden table.
These fishes can help make practicing counting easier for little ones. | Yesenia Prieto
In this hands-on craft activity, children will practice counting from one to 10 using colorful fishes.
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Esta actividad también está disponible en español.

When children are learning to count, they often call out numbers in no particular order. This is normal and part of their learning process. Help your child learn the correct number sequence by counting out loud and pointing out numbers and quantities through your daily routines. In this hands-on craft activity, children will practice counting from one to 10.

Learning Goal

This activity will help your child:

  • Practice counting to 10
  • Recognize the number of objects in a small set

Materials

construction paper, markers, glue, tape and scissors are laid out on a wooden table
You'll only need construction paper, markers, glue or tape and scissors to make your school of counting fishes. | Yesenia Prieto

  • Construction paper
  • Markers
  • Glue or tape
  • Scissors

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Help your child draw out 10 large circles and 10 small triangles. Cut out all the circles and triangles. Place a circle on top of a corner of a triangle and glue them together. Here is your first fish! Repeat until you have created 10 fishes altogether.

Ten colorful fish shapes made out of circles and triangles made out of construction paper.
These ten little fishes are ready to be numbered. | Yesenia Prieto

2. Write the number one on a fish and have your child draw one dot. Then write the number two on the next fish and have your child draw two dots. Continue until you have all 10 fishes labeled.

Colorful cutouts in the shape of fish are labelled one through 10.
You can count out your fishes as you label them. | Yesenia Prieto

3. For fun, you can decorate the fishes with markers or crayons. Give them some eyes, teeth and maybe a mouth. Be as creative as you want! You can make them look like they’re all from different species!

4. Spread the fishes out on the floor, call out a number, and have your child find that number on a fish. Count the number of dots together.

5. Ask your child to order the fishes from one to 10.

6. Have your child count the dots on each fish and then trace the number with their finger.

7. Practice counting backwards by showing your child the fish and counting the dots backward (five, four, three, two, one, zero).

Keep the Conversation Going

Point to items in the house, like spoons, books and people, and count the items with your child. As you take a walk, count the number of steps you take. When you play outside, count the number of birds you see. Counting in other languages also helps children build their number sense — it's also a great chance to flex those bilingual muscles!

Book Suggestions

 Book cover of “Fish Eyes: A Book You Can Count On” by Lois Ehlert featuring a colorful fish illustration over a deep blue background.
Book cover of “Fish Eyes: A Book You Can Count On” by Lois Ehlert

 Book cover of  “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle featuring a collage-style illustration of a green caterpillar with a red head.
Book cover of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle

  • Not a Bean” written by Claudia Guadalupe Martínez and illustrated by Laura González
 Book cover of "Not a Bean" written by Claudia Guadalupe Martínez and illustrated by Laura González featuring an illustration of a boy kneeling on the ground as he points at a Mexican jumping bean.
Book cover of "Not a Bean" written by Claudia Guadalupe Martínez and illustrated by Laura González

Corresponding Standards

Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework

  • Goal P-MATH 1. Child knows number names and the count sequence.
  • Goal P-MATH 2. Child recognizes the number of objects in a small set.
  • Goal P-MATH 3. Child understands the relationship between numbers and quantities.

Common Core State Standards

  • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.K.CC.B.4 Understand the relationship between numbers and quantities; connect counting to cardinality.
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