Math Access for Teachers and Home Child Care Providers

Tally It Up

Children will organize and present tally sticks/marks to represent number counted.

Content Area Standard Target
• Number and Operations
• Algebra
• Understand numbers, ways of representing numbers, relationships among numbers, and number systems
• Understand patterns, relations, and functions
• Count with understanding and recognize “how many” in sets of objects
• Use multiple models to develop initial understandings of place value and the base-ten system
• Sort, classify, and order objects by size, number, and other properties
Obtain the Materials

• 55 tally sticks (wooden craft sticks)
• Number cards 1 through 10
• The book, Tally Cat Keeps Track by Trudy Harris
• Chart paper and an easel

Note: Small parts create a choking hazard for children. Make sure that all materials you choose to use for an activity or lesson with children meet safety requirements. Small parts are not appropriate for children who are 5 years of age or younger.

Introduce the Activity

1. Ask the children a series of random, polling questions (Who likes dogs?, How many of you went to the park this weekend?)  When the children answer, record the result by using tally marks.  Record the tally marks next to the question posed, clearly labeled on the chart paper.
2. When explaining how to count the tally marks, teach them this rhyme to help them remember the concept:
1, 2, 3, 4,
Number 5 shuts the door.
6, 7, 8, 9,
Number 10 draws the line.
3. Model the rhyme with your fingers using your pointer finger for 1, the middle finger for 2, the ring finger for 3, the pinky for 4 and then the thumb is 5 that “shuts the door”.  Start with your palm open and finger spread out and as you count, fold each finger into your palm and then the thumb (number 5) goes across the folded fingers and makes a flat fist.  Model the same with the other hand for numbers 6 through 10.
4. Explain that today they are going to count and record items using tally marks.

Engage the Children

1. Read the book, Tally Cat Keeps Track by Trudy Harris.  Before reading the book, explain that Tally McNally is obsessed with keeping score using tally marks. All day long the cat records who is the faster, smarter, smaller, taller, etc., and due to his sneaky ways, he wins every time.  Read the book and pause on pages where there is an opportunity for the children to tally the results of Tally’s various contests.  Point out while the children are counting: the relationship between the one-to-one correspondence counting and the tally marks and bundling of the groups of 5.
2. The final two pages feature an explanation of what tally marks are, how to use them, and how they are used by Tally Cat.  Depending on your group, sometimes it is best to introduce the last 2 pages before reading the book.
3. Explain that today, the children will be tallying up craft sticks. The children will receive a bundle of sticks and 10 number cards. The child is to lay out the tally sticks to represent the numbers on the cards.  If laid out correctly, the child will use all of the tally sticks.
4. Have the child lay out the card first and then chose how many sticks they will need to represent the number on the card.
5. At first, the pile of tally sticks seems so great that the children do not think that they will use all of them. It isn’t until they get to setting up nine and ten that they realize that will use all of the sticks.

• Include cards that got higher than 10.  This will call for more tally sticks.
• Include pictorial cards instead of number cards.  For example, instead of having a card that has the number 7, the card will have a picture of 7 objects (dots or flowers). The children will need to count and decide how many objects are on the card and then represent that number with tally marks.

Encourage Vocabulary

• Tally Using marks to record counting (e.g, "We are going to count by 5s to get the total and tally up our answers.")

Glossary of MATH vocabulary

Supporting Children at Different Levels

Toddlers   Pre-K

Toddlers may:

• Have difficulty counting by 5s.
• Have difficulty with one-to-one correspondence.

Pre-K Children may:

• Already have mastered counting by 5s

Home child care providers may:

• Help bundle the fives when the children are counting.  After separating the 5’s, reinforce bundling with the 5th stick.  Repeat the “Shut the Door” rhyme as you model the bundling.
• Assist with the counting out of the sticks to match the numbers on the cards.

Home child care providers may:

• Include cards that go higher than 10.  This will call for more tally sticks.
• Include pictorial cards instead of number cards.  For example, instead of having a card that has the number 7, the card will have a picture of 7 objects (dots or flowers). The children will need to count and decide how many objects are on the card and then represent that number with tally marks.

Books

• Tally Cat Keeps Track (Math is Fun!) by Trudy Harris (Minneapolis, MN: Lerner Pub Group, 2010)
• 20 Hungry Piggies by Trudy Harris (Minneapolis, MN: Millbrook Pr Trade, 2006)

Music and Movement

Outdoor Connections

• Go on an Observational Hunt.  Give the children a list of items they can observe outside.  The list can be of items they see (How many birds? How many cars pass?) or a list of things they hear (Car horns beeping, children screaming) and have them tally up the numbers of times they see or hear each of the items on the list.  Compare the tally marks when you get back inside.

• Collect items and then tally up the number of items that have been collected.  Great Fall activity.  Collect different colored leaves and then make a class-wide tally chart of all the different leaves the class collected.

Web Resources

• Survey different children and find out their favorite hobby, is it football, dancing, reading or painting? Make a frequency table by recording the data and tallying the results into totals. Turn you chart into a bar graph, analyze the results and enjoy this fun math game that’s perfect for kids.
http://www.kidsmathgamesonline.com/numbers/mathdata.html

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