Year 1

FREE Key Stage 1 / KS1 maths resources

Year 1 Menu

KS1 Counting
We can count up to 20 objects.
We know that the number of objects does not change even if we move the objects around.

Year 1 Unit 1

What we are learning:

We are learning to count, and to understand the value of numbers

Counting – saying the numbers is important, but is not the same as understanding what the numbers are and what they mean.

Counting groups of objects is important – this is how children understand what a number is, and start to develop their sense of the size of numbers.

When counting, make sure that you point to each object and say the number out loud as you count.

Encourage your child to count out loud, in order, as much as possible – count forward and count back. Count as far as you can and encourage your child to count further next time.

Take one number and explore it to really develop an understanding that for example 5 can be 5 books, 5 Smarties, 5 lorries, 5 fish, 5 elephants – the ‘fiveness’ is the same but looks different. Make a ‘Story of 5’ board by sticking things onto a piece of card or putting objects into pots. Try this with different numbers that your child knows under 20.



Activities you can do at home:

Count objects together, e.g. cutlery on the table, plates, toys, household objects, items in the shopping trolley, cars in the car park, when going up and down stairs etc.

Ask, What happens if I add, move, eat, hide (give them a number here) –
How many are there now? Does your child need to recount again? Let your child recount if they want to – this is how they learn to develop their understanding of numbers when we add or subtract.

Arrange objects in a group, then rearrange in a line, make it fun – hide them, put them in a box, bowl etc. and ask How many are under the …?

Count again and check if needed. Don’t worry if your child takes a little while to understand that if you group 5 objects or put them in a line or put them in a box the number of objects stays the same – this is normal.

Good questions to ask:

Can you count backwards from….?
How far can you count?
How many do you think there are?
Guess how many there are.
How near was our guess?
How many are there if I hide one object?
How many are there if I put one more in?

If your child:

Thinks that the number of objects changes each time they are moved around
Let them count the objects again each time to discover that the number has not changed, until they realise that since nothing has been added or taken away the number of objects must remain the same. This may take some time and repetition for some children.

Can count reliably and easily identify that the number does not change when objects are moved.
Ask your child to try counting the objects in their head rather than out loud.
Try counting without pointing at the objects.
Try comparing very different groups of objects of the same number, e.g. forks and apples.

Extension Activity

Please use this activity when you think your child understands the unit of work. It will deepen and extend your child’s understanding of this unit.


Extension activity (PDF)