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Counting With A Purpose

January 11, 2023 | Kristen Jordan

After collecting so many items for toddlers, it finally came time for us to see how much we had gathered. The children have enjoyed seeing it all come in and hearing how their classmates have helped at home to earn items for others. They had collected so much!  

There was so much to count, so the children tried counting in different ways.  

Because there were so many items, the children helped to sort and organize the items into groups.  It seemed like so much to do, but once things were in smaller groups, it was easier to count.  Grouping and sorting are two very important skills for mathematical thinking.    

Often there are tools and strategies that can help to break down a big task into smaller parts.  Children were then guided to gather the items into groups of 10 to make counting simpler.  We got out the 10 frame that we had used to organize counting smaller objects, but discovered that only one box of cereal would fit onto that tiny 10 frame!

But a 10 frame can help so the children worked to worked to fill GIANT 10 frames with toddler items!

Once on the 10 frame, the things still had to be counted.

Again, children tried counting, but sometimes they still lost track of which things they had already counted on the 10 frame. So, they began using the strategy of tipping over each item as it was counted, and that helped them to keep track.

Sometimes children checked the counts using the abacus.

As the children counted groups of similar items, I recorded the total numbers of that item.

When children looked at all of the things they had counted, they were invited to estimate how many total things they thought we had collected and counted.  There was great variety in the estimates!

Some of the older children know how to count by 10s so they sorted everything into groups of 10s all at the same time (without the giant 10 frames) and then they added up all of the groups of 10s together.  Counting in different ways helps children to see that there is more than a single way to reach a solution.

Some children also helped to look at the other counts we had recorded, and they helped to figure out the total number of items collected this way.  By figuring out the solution using more than one method, they checked to be sure the total was correct.

The total number of items we collected is 68!  The children accomplished a giant task using strategies, patience, and collaboration. 


There will be many happy families served by In Jesus Name, who will benefit from the hard work and kindness of the children with this, our first service project.  

Kristen Jordan

Teacher, Rivers Class

Kristen Jordan began helping at Mustard Seed School in 2006, after her daughter had been a student in the preschool. She substituted for many years in all grades; in 2011, she returned to the classroom and has been a teacher in The Nest ever since.

Prior to the birth of her daughter Clara, in 2002, Ms. Jordan worked in Brooklyn as a first grade teacher with the New York City Public Schools. During this time, her school collaborated with the Brooklyn Museum, and this work helped Ms. Jordan develop a real interest in the parallels between the process of making art and the process of writing in the classroom. She thoroughly enjoys teaching both art and literacy to preschoolers.

Ms Jordan’s background includes work with the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. While at Teachers College, she trained with esteemed educator and author Lucy Calkins. Early in her teaching career, Ms. Jordan did not think that she wanted to teach very young children but her view has changed! She now really enjoys and takes great interest in young children and their development.

Ms. Jordan enjoys reading, working out, hiking, cooking, and spending time with her daughter and family. Although she has lived on the East Coast for a very long time, as a native of Oregon, she really loves the mountains!

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