In the book Leaping Lizards by Stuart J. Murphy, a snake attempts to stage a show, but he realizes the lizards are missing. Slowly, the lizards start to arrive in groups of five or ten until all fifty of them are there and the performance can begin. As we read, the children followed along and counted as the lizards appeared, remembering that the snake is trying to reach a goal of fifty. We used linking cubes to act out the story, with each child creating a row of five cubes. The children counted in French, and practiced one-to-one correspondence by touching each cube only once while assembling their rows. When arranging their groups of five in a line, the students could quickly compare the heights of the towers. If a tower was too high or too short, we knew that it did not contain precisely five cubes. The children used mathematical words such as “more,” “fewer,” and “the same” when counting and comparing.
Next, we combined two groups of five to make a group of ten. The book’s bright illustrations resemble a ten frame, a math teaching tool very familiar to our students. We don’t expect children to count or work with numbers as high as fifty in Kindergarten, but some students are ready for this challenge. Composing numbers by grouping, and counting by fives and tens will prepare children to add, multiply, count money, and tell time as they progress through subsequent years of learning. Excellent!