Choral Counting

Choral counting is an excellent maths warm up activity that can be done with your whole class. The purpose of choral counting is to highlight and generate a class discussion about the patterns in numbers.

What is choral counting?

Choral counting is when the teacher leads the class or a group to follow a counting pattern together ( 4, 8, 12, … or  66, 76, 86, …). The teacher records the pattern and then leads the class/group in a discussion about patterns in our number system.  Choral counting helps develop a number sense in students - an understanding of how numbers work, including number order, place value and mathematical vocabulary.  

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Amber working hard to follow a pattern

Room 3 have been working on different choral counting activities. Typically we take part in a variety of counting activities (skip counting in 2’s, 5’s, 10’s, 20’s, 50’s, 100’s, in tens from 66 etc, forwards and backwards) during our maths warm up each day. We also have independent “must-do” counting activities which students complete on their mini-whiteboards. 

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Choral counting in 3s. We stopped at 48 and then had quite a challenge to work out what number would come below it. Looking at the pattern several of us predicted 50 but we worked out that number wasn't big enough

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Choral counting in 20s predicting what will come two below 480

We are now moving towards specific choral counting challenges such as counting in 3’s, 4’s, 6’s, etc.  Students are seated on the mat. I ask the students to prepare the first 4 numbers in their minds before we start the count together.  I record the count on the whiteboard. Anytime that the counting slows we go back to the start of the count and begin again. After the pattern has developed we stop and talk about what we notice.  Then we make some predictions about what we think might come later on in the number sequence. We explain what we have noticed in the pattern to make our predictions. We then have a discussion on whether we agree with each other's predictions and why.

Student Reactions

I notice that students enjoy and respond well to number patterns.  They are very motivated to follow patterns and to work with bigger numbers.  

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Choral counting superstars

Our independent “must do” activities to practise choral counting patterns on whiteboards are popular and successful for learners.  Whiteboards are easy for students to make changes to if they change their mind. We also have lots of resources within our classroom such as hundred boards and thousand books if students decide they need a helpers card.

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Is that counting in 6s all the way to 330

Class discussions are working well because most students are happy to share their ideas and are not overly concerned with being right.  I try to focus on thinking and having a go to share ideas rather than being right.

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Taylor has independently counted in 6s

Choral counting activities are great for mixed ability groups because they are a low floor high ceiling activity.  This means that students of different abilities can access the choral counting patterns in different ways and they can enter and exit the learning at different levels.  

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Wow Pippa we are also practising getting our digits around the correct way

Next Steps

My next steps as a teacher are to prepare some choral counting patterns that will be challenging and generate meaningful discussion with my students.  I am learning that my preparation time is very important. I did get a little caught out when we counted in 3’s as I was also trying to predict the number I asked my students to predict in the sequence.  I have been researching choral counting on the web and I am coming up with a resource bank of ideas that I can share with other teachers at my school.

Curriculum Links

Mathematics Number and algebra

 Number strategies

  • Use simple additive strategies with whole numbers and fractions.

Number knowledge

  • Know forward and backward counting sequences with whole numbers to at least 1000.

  • Know the basic addition and subtraction facts.

  • Know how many ones, tens, and hundreds are in whole numbers to at least 1000.

  • Know simple fractions in everyday use.

Equations and expressions

  • Communicate and interpret simple additive strategies, using words, diagrams (pictures), and symbols.

Patterns and relationships

  • Generalise that whole numbers can be partitioned in many ways.

  • Find rules for the next member in a sequential pattern.

Attributed to 

DMIC - Developing Inquiry Mathematical Communities Short Course 2020 led by Jodie Hunter and Bobbie Hunter Massey University 

Key Words

Choral counting, number sense, patterns

Choral counting superstars