Counting Backwards (20-0)

Salpy Baharian, M.Ed Co-Founder

Students will learn how to count backwards from 20-0 in a very fun and exciting way. The lesson includes a hands-on/interactive component where students will be asked to hop backwards while counting. This lesson is great for kindergarten through first grade.

Grade Level: K - 1st

Subject: Math

Length of Time: 30-40 Minutes

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Objectives & Outcomes

Students will be able to (1) orally count backwards from 20-0 and (2) write numbers backwards from 20-0 in order.

Materials Needed

A pencil and marker for each student, ten stickers, 21 pieces of large construction paper with a number (from 0-20) written in large print on each, index cards for each student.


Opening to Lesson

  • Students can be seated on the rug close to the teacher.
  • The teacher will begin by showing students a sheet of stickers. There should be 10 stickers on the sheet (stickers can be substituted with many other items). Together, students and teacher will count the stickers starting from 1 up to 10.
  • One by one, teacher will give a sticker to a student. After each sticker is removed, teacher will ask “How many stickers to do we have left”? By the time all stickers are passed out, students would have counted down from 10-0.

Body of Lesson


  • Refer to a number line (or something similar) in the classroom. As a class, notice how numbers get “bigger/greater” when counting forward and “smaller/less” when counting backwards.
  • Use hand/body gestures to refer to forward and backward.
  • Write the words “less”, “take-away” and “backwards” on the board or display the words on a pocket chart. Ask children to tell you what they know about those words.
  • Together, chorally practice counting backwards from 20-0 as teachers points to each number on the number line. Teacher can physically move backwards as students count to show the relation.

Guided Practice

  • Teacher should place pieces of large construction paper with one number (in order from 20-0) written in large print on each.
  • Each student will receive a small index card with a “mystery number” (0-20) written on it.
  • Each child will get a turn find their number on the construction paper number line on the floor.  They will then begin hopping/counting backwards from their mystery number. When the rest of the class catches on, they will join in on the counting.
  • Continue process until all students have hopped and counted backwards.

Independent Practice

  • Teacher will create a simple fill-in-the-blank counting worksheet to show their understanding of counting backwards. This will be used as an assessment.

Example: 20, 19, __, 17, __, __, 14, 13, __, __, 9, etc.)


Recall sticker activity from the lesson's opening.  Review the lesson with students. Ask students, "what did we learn about numbers today"? Count backwards with students. Ask for questions.

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Assessment & Evaluation

Students will be asked to complete a worksheet (independent practice) on counting backwards. Students will fill in blanks on a number line).

Modification & Differentiation

The teacher can work in with students in small groups for those who need extra assistance. Students who are reluctant to participate can work with a partner. Teacher can provide verbal and physical cues to help students.

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