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Who's on First? Two Ideas on Teaching Ordinal Numbers in Kindergarten

written by: Jacqueline Chinappi • edited by: Trent Lorcher • updated: 1/6/2012

This lesson plan will help kindergarten and early education students learn about ordinal numbers. The lesson will include activities and worksheets which will look at ways to teach these math concepts.

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    Before the Lesson:

    Ask students if they can define ordinal numbers. The teacher will more than likely have to explain ordinal numbers at this age. Explain that ordinal numbers state a position or place where something is. For instance in a race with three people:

    • Someone comes in first place
    • Someone comes in second place
    • Someone comes in third place

    The ordinal numbers are usually similar to the actual numbers they represent. At this age it is best to do a few numbers at a time, only going up to twentieth place. Each child is different and will learn at a different pace.

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    1st Idea

    With this activity you can use everyday items such as those you will find in school. When teaching ordinal numbers work in increments of three to five to allow students to absorb the information. As they become more knolwedgable in the topic you can start adding in more numbers.

    Place five items on the teacher's desk. For instance:

    • Chalk
    • Eraser
    • Crayon
    • Pencil
    • Glue

    Using these five items ask the students various questions such as:

    • Which place is the glue in?
    • Which item is in the fifth place?
    • Which place is the chalk in?
    • Which item is in first place?

    After working through this a few times, shuffle the items around so that they are in different places. As the students grasp the concept better, add in more items until you are up to twenty.

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    2nd Idea

    Have students line up in two groups parallel to each other. This will resemble the old game "Steal the Bacon". Every student will call out his or her ordinal number..."First, second, etc..." There will be a matching ordinal number for each team. So each team will have a first, a second, etc.

    Place a small item such as a ball in the middle of the room. The teacher will now call out different ordinal numbers. The student who represents the ordinal number called must race to "Steal the Bacon" or in this case the ball.

    So the teacher says, "First!" The first player on each team races to catch the ball. The teacher will keep score as to who "Steals the Bacon" successfully each time.

    This game gives a great hand on approach to ordinal numbers while the students are actually representing the numbers.

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    Ending the Lesson

    Wrap up the lesson by completing some of the ordinal worksheets found here.