The 5 Steps to Mastering Counting Collections

As a kindergarten teacher, you know that one of the most important things you can teach your students is how to count. Not only is counting a fundamental math skill, but it’s also a necessary life skill.  Fortunately, there are lots of fun and creative ways to help your students practice their counting skills.

Counting collection header

What are Counting Collections

Counting collections are a set of objects. One great way to help your students learn to count is by having them practice counting collections. This can be anything from pieces of candy to crayons to cars. To make it more challenging, you can even have them count by 2s, 5s, or 10s. Not only is this a great way for your students to practice their counting skills, but it’s also a great way for them to learn about grouping and measurement.

When I say a set of objects that can literally be any set of objects.  The goal of counting collections is for your students to correctly count the objects inside of the collection. This can be done in a multitude of ways depending on how you’ve taught them to count. This can also change depending on the skill that you are working on or something that you have previously taught.

After students have counted the set then they will record what they counted. At the beginning of the school year, I usually start counting collections in pairs. I either place a higher level student with a lower level student until they master the goal of counting collection.

I also often prefer to place middle-skill students together. Pairing students together definitely helps and they feel like they have achieved something by working with a partner. This also helps me because I can only be in one place at a time in the classroom.

Finding objects for Counting Collections

The very first thing I do when starting with counting collections is to search my classroom for objects that can become a set. This could be anything from mini erasers to dice to glue tops to anything that is not needed in your classroom. I also searched through my home for things that can be placed into a collection. I took dyed pasta from one of my sensory bins and created a collection.

dyed pasta


Some ideas of things that I have found in my home were cotton balls, toothpicks, water bottle tops, and other small knick-knacks like those. During the school year when I was ready for some fresh objects, I shopped from Dollar spots. You can search at Target, Walmart, Michaels, Hobby Lobby, or any little store that has small objects that would work great for counting. To help you get started I have crafted a possible list of things you may find in your home or classroom that can be used for counting collections. The list is inside my Counting Collections set.

Organizing Your Materials

As I mentioned earlier, I started doing these collections with just inventory bags. These bags were just brown paper sacks and I wrote a letter on the front with a marker. It was very simple to get these put together. However, they did not last long because the bags tore easily.

After 12 years, I finally settled on some very small containers that I found on clearance in Walmart. These have snaps on the side to take off the top. They are very small so any of my collections need to be small enough to fit inside these containers. For anything larger than I need I have to use a larger container. I like this size because I can keep more containers to hold my collections.

To keep these organized all I did was put a letter on the top and dump the objects inside of the container. You can find the labels I use here. My students grab one container to count with for that day and then record what they have.


This is so simple to do at the beginning of the school year. We simply practice counting for a few days and even sometimes a few weeks before I introduce a recording sheet. My goal is to make sure they are counting and checking what they are counting. They verbally tell me how many they have and this helps when we get ready to use a recording sheet in the future.

counting collections

Getting Started with Counting Collections

Counting Collections have five parts. The introduction, how to count, counting, recording, and the discussion. From the very start, you will not cover each part. It is a slow introduction to a few parts and you will build up to all five parts. It is like teaching how to write in paragraphs. From the beginning, students have an intro, one paragraph for the body, and a conclusion. With counting collections, you introduce it and practice counting for a few days. Once your students have this, move on.

Each new part can be introduced as a mini-lesson. On the first day, I talk about counting collections and show them the collections. I model how to count and that’s it. For the next few days, they count with me as I model. When I think they are ready, I assign them a partner. We discuss what our counting spots are for and what their role is. I pass out the collections to save time. As they get their collection, they go to their counting spot and wait.

Counting the Collections

When I say begin, they count their collection. The first few times of doing this I only want them to tell me how many. That’s it. Then, we move on to actually recording. I introduce their recording sheets as a mini-lesson and I go through them first. This part takes a lot of practice. 

chart for counting

You can use anything to record. Your students can use a journal 0r counting collection journal to write in every day. I actually prefer to print mine. They use half sheets of paper to record their collections. Once finished, they take a picture or video and send it to Seesaw. This helps me to go back and look at what they counted. I can also write notes about what I need to have small group lessons for.

The last part is the discussion. We come back to the rug. I ask in partners, what did you count, how did you count, and how many. They still have their recording sheet so they can look back at it for the number. This is also the perfect time to ask anything else you want to know. If they had a difficult time doing anything, if they did anything they want to share with the group, and so on. Grab some free math questions here.


The mini-lessons are adjusted depending on what our skill is. As the year progresses, I make sure to change our goals. This helps to keep counting collections engaging and fun. You can grab everything that you need to get started with my Counting Collections in the Primary Grades resource.


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apple erasers

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