Circle Time Counting Math Game

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We all love to have fun when we are learning! In fact, it could be argued that we learn MORE if we are enjoying the process. Many teachers know this, and we all play learning games in our classrooms (at least, I sure hope we do!). This year I decided to take our daily calendar/number talk time and revamp it a little to include this Circle Time counting math game that I call “Circle Count!”

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This Circle Time Counting Math Game is the perfect addition to your daily calendar time or number talks in Pre-K and Kindergarten!

Circle Time Counting Math Game

This game is simple once the kids are used to Circle Time and can also sit in a circle. If you teach Pre-K or Kindergarten you understand that learning how to form a circle, to scoot BACK to make more room, etc. is quite an accomplishment!

Now, we do it with ease and I couldn’t be prouder. I need a t-shirt that says, “My kinders can sit in a circle without help!”

Ways to Play

Once we are in the circle, the beginner’s version of this game is to simply count. I start at 1. The person next to me says 2. The person next to them says 3, and so on. It is a great way to practice one-to-one correspondence and early counting skills at the start of school! Many teachers have probably played this version and just not given it a name.

As the year progresses, I change it up and I will start by saying “10.” The person next to me says “11” and so on.

I will also ask questions such as, “If I say 13, and we count by 1’s in this direction, what number will Billy say?” This is tricky for some students. But it is fascinating to see their thinking and build off of it!

We play this Circle Time counting math game during our daily calendar/number talk time.

Later on in the school year, we play a more challenging version of Circle Count. We count on from any number within 100 or count on by 10’s and 5’s. For example, I may start at 67 and have us count on around the circle by 1’s or I may start at 20 and have us count on by 10’s.

In the spring I plan on playing an addition version! I will say a problem such as “1 + 1 is 2.” The person next to me will say “2 + 1 is 3,” and next to them “3 + 1 is 4,” and so on (understanding that plus 1 is always the next number). There are so many ways to play. I can always change it up depending on what my group needs most!

Meeting Standards While Having Fun!

My students LOVE playing Circle Count and if we miss it they are very disappointed. Something about the anticipation of saying their number combined with not knowing what number I will start with gets them all excited!

The kids are also so helpful and kind to one another. They know how to be patient and give their friends wait time. And they feel comfortable saying, “Help please,” to request peer assistance (this is practiced too to help everyone feel more confident when playing).

While we play, students sit in a circle on the carpet.

That’s it – so easy! I recommend giving Circle Count a try. Since making this game a part of our Circle Time routine, I have truly seen improvements in my kinders’ counting – especially their ability to count on from any number!

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Circle Time Counting Math Game


  1. This is an excellent idea, Alex. I love that the kids would pick it up so quickly and then it's continually adapted throughout the year. Simple and effective (and requiring zero preparation)!

    1. Hi Donna! I am so glad you will be able to use some of this with your preschool class! I love games that can be adapted for many different ages and skill levels! 🙂

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