Count Around


Watch a Count Around In Action

For types of questioning and example discussion, watch master teacher and workshop presenter Kim Montague facilitate a Count Around with a group of elementary teachers.

When you watch the video, what do you notice? What do you wonder?

What Are Count Arounds?

A Count Around is a powerful instructional routine (a mini-lesson) that can be used in many different grades to promote numeracy, especially place-value relationships and connections.

Why Use Count Arounds?

Count Arounds are a great part of a well rounded mathematics curriculum.  They are also a wonderful beginning routine for teachers to implement as they get their feet underneath them in their journey to teach real mathematizing. In other words, it’s a good place to start. The routine is fairly contained, easy to facilitate, and gives teachers a chance to hear student ideas and thinking. It is also an opportunity for teachers to practice responding to students.

How to Facilitate a Count Around

A Count Around begins with the teacher selecting a starting number for the class. A student begins at that starting number and adds a specified amount. The class continues to count around, one student at a time, by that same specified amount. As each student says the next number in the count, the teacher records the count. At certain, pre-planned junctures the teacher stops the count and asks noticing, probing questions. Often these junctures are at important place values, where patterns shift or after enough numbers are listed so that students can notice important patterns shifting somewhere in the list.

  • The teacher selects starting number. This can be by telling students the starting number. Alternatively, the teacher can ask students to choose a number with restrictions, for example: a number between 1 and 9, any two digit number, or any fraction between 0 and 1.
  • If desired, the students could sit in a circle or semi circle. This is especially helpful for younger students because it removes the ambiguity of who is next in the counting. Students know in advance when their turn will be.
  • The teacher announces the amount to count by.
  • A student begins by adding the amount to the starting number, the next student adds the amount to the previous number, and so on.
  • The teacher stops the counting periodically to ask important questions. What are you noticing? What patterns are emerging?
  • The teacher helps wrap up the count around by helping students summarize some of the major patterns that emerged.

For example, the teacher might choose the number 8 and then tell the class to count around, adding 10 each time. The first student starts with 8 and adds 10 to get 18, the next student adds 10 to get 28, the next student says 38, and so forth. As students count, the teacher writes the numbers on the board. Somewhere around 138, the teacher would stop and ask what students are noticing and what patterns are emerging. Then students start counting again until they reach 248. The teacher would again press for description and discussion.

Watch a Count Around with Students

Want to see how this can look in a class with students?

How does Kim introduce the task? How does she manage the conversation? What does Kim model on the whiteboard? What moves are purposeful? 

What could this look like in your classroom?


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