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Who Wants to Be First? A Kindergarten Lesson Plan on Ordinal Numbers

written by: Patricia Gable • edited by: Carly Stockwell • updated: 3/19/2013

That’s the fourth time you’ve asked me! The player is on third base. Ordinal numbers are part of our vocabulary more than we realize. Your students will quickly learn this concept by listening to a related book and doing some fun follow-up activities.

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    Ordinal numbers can be practiced all year round whenever there is a teachable moment.

    Call on a student in line and ask what ordinal position he/she is in the line. Ask the fourth person in line to turn off the lights when you are leaving the room. With this lesson plan you can clarify the concept of ordinal numbers for your young students.


    1. Students will use ordinal numbers to identify and order objects up to 10 items.

    Henry the IV Materials:

    • Book: Henry the Fourth: Math Start: Level One by Stuart Murphy
    • Ten pieces of construction paper or card stock each labeled with the abbreviation of an ordinal number: 1st,2nd,3rd,4th, 5th,6th,7th,8th,9th,10th.
    • Student copies of “Ordinal Dogs" the printable worksheet
    • Glue sticks
    • Strips of 12" X 18" construction paper cut in half lengthwise
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    Lesson Procedure:

    Let’s begin teaching the objective right away! If your students are sitting in groups at color-coded tables gather them together in this way: “The red table may join me first. The blue table will be second, etc." Show them the book Henry the Fourth. Read it one time through and point out the illustrations of the dogs labeled in order. Notice that the ordinal numbers are labeled with the abbreviations (1st, 2nd,etc.) instead of spelling out the whole word.

    After finishing the book, write the words first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth next to the corresponding abbreviations. Ask the students to notice a pattern. The last two letters of each word are used in the abbreviations. Also each abbreviation has the actual numeral in it making them easier to put in sequential order.

    Assign ten students to line up in a row in front of the class. Then hand out the ten pieces of construction paper labeled with an abbreviation of an ordinal number to the remaining students in the audience. Show your students that when you count the children in the row you count from left to right just like when you are reading words. Then, one by one, ask questions like, “Please give (student’s name) the card showing his ordinal number." The student in the audience holding the correct card should come up and hand it to that student.

    For fun have a speed round! Pass out the ten cards. Then see how fast the group can put themselves in order. Play again until everyone has had a turn.

    Follow-up Assessment:

    This assessment not only shows the student’s understanding of ordinal numbers but it also provides practice in listening skills and color word recognition.

    Give each student a copy of the “Ordinal Dogs". Tell them to color them according to the color word beneath each dog. Then the students should cut the dogs out and put them in a small pile in front of them. When finished provide a strip of construction paper and glue stick to each student. Now assume a testing situation: no talking, students spread out. Then slowly dictate the order in which students should glue the dogs. “The red dog is first, the yellow dog is second, etc."


    Murphy, Stuart. Henry the Fourth: Math Start Level One. Harper Collins Publishers, 1999.