Preschool Counting Lessons for Math: Building Pre-Addition and Pre-Subtraction Skills

Materials Required

  • Counting manipulatives such as Cheerios, counting bears, counting frogs or other small plastic figurines
  • Imagination

Prior Knowledge:

Students should know how to count to ten and be able to recognize the numbers zero through ten. They should understand the difference between larger and smaller. Ask students what they know about math. Does anyone know what adding and subtracting are?


The concepts of some, some more and some, some went away are pre-math skills that introduce the concepts of addition, subtraction and problem solving. Before starting on the exercise, explain to your students that when working with math stories sometimes the numbers increase or get larger and sometimes numbers decrease or get smaller.


Have students sit at a table or on a rug. Each child should have a set of counting manipulatives. The teacher starts by explaining that she will tell a math story. In the math story we have to solve a problem. Start with a some, some more story such as “Susie has five pieces of candy. Her sister gave her three more. How many pieces of candy does Susie have now?” Explain to the students that this is a some, some more story. Susie has some candy; her sister gave her some more. Ask the students how can we find the answer to the question? Show the students how to use the counting manipulatives to find the answer. Repeat with a some, some went away story.


At the end of this preschool math lesson students should be able to properly identify a some, some more story and a some, some went away story. The student should be able to explain the steps needed to solve either type of problem even if they get an incorrect answer.


After students have had a chance to solve several some, some more and some, some went away problems, have them make up their own problems to solve. Take turns with a student telling the story and have the group solve the problem. Advanced students may enjoy one of the Life of Fred books and students at grade level will enjoy reading one of the Mathstart Books. This can be done either before or after the lesson to further reinforce the concepts taught.

Cross Curricular:

Take the concepts of some, some more and some, some went away and apply them to science. Set up a birdfeeder and ask the students about filling the feeder and the birds eating the seeds. Is this a some, some more situation or a some, some went away situation. What about the number of birds at the feeder? Are the number of birds visiting the feeder a some, some more or a some, some went away situation. The latter will take several days of observations and the answer may vary from day to day.