Activity: Counting accurately forwards and backwards using equipment

Resources needed:

  • Pasta
  • Multilink cubes or counters



  1. Sit the children in a circle and explain the rules of ‘Ping, Pong’ to them: they are going to count around the circle except when they say a number which is a multiple of two, they should say ‘fizz’ instead, and when they say a number which is a multiple of five, they should say ‘buzz’. If they happen to have a number which is a multiple of both two and five, such as 10, they should say ‘ping pong’.
  2. If this game might be a challenge (especially if it’s new to the class) then they could begin by only saying ‘ping’ for multiples of two. For example, ‘One, ping, three, ping, five, ping…’ Move on to ‘pong’ when you think they are ready. Have a 100 square visible somewhere with the multiples highlighted to further support if necessary. If you feel the children are able, add ‘pop’ for multiples of ten – this will mean all multiples of ten will be ‘ping, pong, pop’.
  3. Now give each pair of children some concrete objects to count (such as pasta, multilink cubes or counters). Ask them to practise counting the objects in twos, modelling how to move the items which have been counted to a different area of the table so that they are not accidentally counted twice.
  4. Let the children take turns to count the objects and agree on a total before trying a new amount of objects.
  5. Repeat this activity but now count in fives. Encourage the children to check for accuracy – ask partners to watch the counting and check the objects are grouped in fives! Less able children may find it easier to group the objects before counting them. Repeat this with further sets to count. Again, if appropriate, count the objects in tens.
  6. To end the activity, challenge the children to take the last set they counted and count backwards in twos, fives or tens to zero. For example, if they had a set of 25 objects, they should remove groups of five, counting backwards as they do so, until they reach zero.


Further Activities:

Give the children a hundred square and let them colour in the patterns for twos, fives and tens, noting the numbers which are multiples of all three.

Draw a sock template and let the children create their own pairs of socks to hang on a washing line and reinforce the concept of counting in twos.

Give the children pictures of several items to count and show them how to ring groups with a pencil and then count the groups.

Give lots of opportunities for estimation, especially where larger numbers are involved.

Curriculum Areas covered:

Ensure that pupils develop confidence and mental fluency with whole numbers, counting and place value.

Count in steps of 2, 3, and 5 from 0, and in tens from any number, forward and backward