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Guest Blog - Counting backwards - Natalie Moffat

Updated: Mar 27, 2023

Five years ago, I was moved from Key Stage Two to Year one. Before moving, I remember having time to plan for Year 1 and I realised a massive focus was on counting forwards and backwards. How could I spend more than a few days on this?

During mental and oral starters in Year 1, lots of children proved that they had already gained the essential skills in rote counting.

When we think of counting backwards, we often think of a count down. Often, this becomes a rote method of learning. This is important but children also need to develop a deeper understanding of counting backwards and what it means.

From experience, I have put together this step-by step guide on how to teach the skills needed for counting backwards. Here are my lesson ideas:

1. Start the lesson by reviewing methods for counting forwards. What happens to the numbers when we count forwards? Previous lessons should enable children to develop a deeper understanding of this. The number is increasing, the numbers get bigger and the counter/apparatus pile is getting bigger by one each time.

2. Give the lesson a purpose. Why do we need to be able to count backwards?

· It is important to count backwards from different starting points.

· -his will help you understand the size of the numbers in relation to other numbers.

· This will also give a deeper understanding of the place value of the numbers and where they sit on a number line.

3. Ask children to watch while you count backwards from different numbers. Show this using counters or apparatus and take one away each time as you count. What happens to the counters/animals? What has happened to the counter pile?

4. Show the concept using picture books. I especially like ’10 Little Teddies’ by Igloo Books. This enforces the concept because there is a reason why one teddy leaves each event. This gives the learning a context.

Ask questions while reading the story. Children to verbally answer stem sentences after each page.

5. Stem sentences throughout the lesson to reinforce learning:

When we count backwards, the numbers get _________________.

The number/pile of objects gets smaller by ____ each time.

6. Visual learning checks to review learning so far:

7. Activity idea:

First pick a number card at random using numbers the class are currently work on. Then build it using counters. After that put the counters in the ‘start number’ box. Write the number underneath. Next Children need to then physically move the counters left and remove 1 counter each time. Move from right to left to replicate/mirror a number line and counting backwards. Go through this process till the counters reach the last box.

We say, “move it, remove it.”

8. Spot the error!

This is a good way to dive deeper with the learning.

What ideas do you have when working on this objective? Please comment below.


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