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3 Fun Winter Counting Games for Primary Learners

No matter what time of year it is, I know most primary teachers would agree that games are a win all around. When it comes to keeping engagement high all winter long, you already know that games are my go-to! If you’re hoping to boost math skills in a fun way this winter, come along to see some of my favorite winter counting games for the primary classroom!

Why Games Are The MVP

As a kindergarten teacher, there are a few things at the top of my priority list on a daily basis. I make it my mission to focus on high engagement, fostering independence, and allowing for as much time as possible in small groups. Why you ask? Over the years I’ve found these three things are the keys to success in the primary classroom. Lucky for me, I can target all three of these things with games!

Foster Independence

While you might not think that traditional games allow you to do this, the games I’ve created in my classroom certainly do!

Most of the games I use can be played independently or in pairs.

I like to assign these to students to work on while I am in small groups with other students. This is such a great technique because you’re essentially killing two birds with one stone.

As you work in small groups for targeted practice, the rest of your class is getting to focus on independent work skills!

Facilitate Small Groups

Speaking of small groups, games also come in super handy in this setting too! I love using games that are meant to be played independently as an example to my kiddos. To do this, I will slowly walk through the game from start to finish.

I will “take a few turns” myself, showing students how to play. I might also call on students one by one and have them take a turn too. This is a really valuable opportunity to teach specific skills and check in on student understanding.

Boost Engagement

Finally, games are just plain FUN! Not only will games offer immense learning benefits, but they’re also really engaging for students.

This is a benefit in itself because you’ll be able to offer them the repetitive practice they need to be successful.

This is especially helpful in the primary grades when we’re focused on practicing foundational skills all year long.

We all know how boring flashcards or “drill and kill” worksheets can get after a while. Games offer a fun and engaging solution to getting plenty of practice in and maintaining student interest along the way!

My Favorite Winter Counting Games

I have very specific criteria for our daily math activities and I had a hard time finding something that checked all the boxes. I needed something that could be used in small groups, centers, and independently while also having the allure of traditional games.

To meet this need I decided to make my own winter counting games for numbers 1-10.

We work on counting skills all year long. From the start of the year to the last day in session, I need engaging games to keep my crew interested!

These low-prep games and activities always deliver! They are perfect for primary learners and help students get plenty of practice with counting.

Let’s take a closer look at what’s inside this resource and how I use it in my classroom!

1. Winter Count & Graph Games

One of our favorite winter counting games focuses on something my students need plenty of practice with throughout the year – counting and graphing. This is such a great game because it naturally teaches children to analyze data after they’ve finished graphing.

To play, children will count the winter pictures on their page and color one square on the graph for each one. These games have 3 different winter-themed pictures on each page, so students will need to look carefully to count correctly. Once students have filled in their whole graph, they can compare to determine which one has the most.

There are two options provided for these games, one in color and one in black and white. The black and white version is perfect for center time and they’re quick and easy to prep! Simply print the pages and provide your students with crayons. No cutting, laminating, or extra prep is required! For the black-and-white version, I also like to encourage my students to color each picture a different color as they go to help them visually keep track of what they’ve counted.

The full-color version of these game boards is a fun activity for your small group sessions. For these boards, I like to laminate them and have students use mini erasers to fill in the graph. This way we can use it over and over again throughout the winter season. This is a great warm-up activity to use with your group as you get organized with the main activity you’ll be focusing on for the day.

2. Winter Count & Tally Games

Next up on my list is similar to the first activity, but instead of graphing, students will work on using tally marks to show how many of each object is on their page. As they count the objects, they will make tally marks for each one and then determine which object has the most.

Winter counting games like this count and tally activity will get your students excited to practice counting and tallying with adorable characters.

Each game board is set up similarly and features 3 different pictures, so students will need to look closely and use those visual discrimination skills again to count accurately. I use these the same way as the graphing mats and reserve the black and white versions for center time. The color mats are great to laminate and use with dry-erase markers.

I like to prepare both options of these winter counting games so that we can add a bit of variety to our lessons.

By simply using dry-erase markers on the full-color mats instead of crayons, the activity feels a bit “new”. Plus, it offers more versatility in how it can be used.

These games are perfect for morning tubs, center time, small focused math groups, and even to leave for a substitute teacher!

3. Winter Count and Clip Cards

Most students in the primary classroom can use a little extra practice with fine motor skills. For this reason, I typically choose at least one fine motor activity to weave into our winter counting games.

I love being able to target multiple skills in one activity and add another layer of practice to our day!

These winter count and clip cards are perfect for targeting hand strength and fine motor skills in an engaging format. Opening and closing the clothespin takes some serious hand strength for my young students!

To use, students will count how many they see of each winter object on the task card. Then, they clip a clothespin to the card to show the correct number. In addition to using clothespins, you can also have students mark the correct number with a small eraser, manipulative, or dry-erase marker.

I like to prep these ahead by cutting and laminating and then store them in small, plastic photo boxes. That way, I can quickly pull them out for morning tubs, independent workstations, and centers. As a bonus, this resource also includes a few extra practice pages, which are great for adding to your center rotation or assigning as homework.

Digital Winter Counting Games

As a kindergarten teacher, I appreciate the benefits of a good, digital activity from time to time.

Include digital games like these Boom cards in your winter counting games activities for fun center or home based activities your students can do any time.

While hands-on learning has my heart, there is a place for digital options too! In my classroom, we use Boom Cards and Google Slides from time to time to add another layer of engaging practice.

Students enjoy participating in digital activities and they’re super low-prep for me making it a total no-brainer!

All of these fun winter counting games also come in a digital version! You can find the bundle with both options here. Inside the bundle, you’ll get all of the hands-on learning centers, extra practice worksheets, and Boom Card activities in one place!

In my opinion, you can never have enough games and this option offers one more opportunity for deeper learning!

More Benefits to Winter Counting Games

There are a few more things about these winter counting games worth mentioning! If you’re like most teachers, January means you’re headed back to school after break. When you teach littles, you’ll often find yourself spending a week or two reviewing the routines, expectations, and what was taught before the break. I find that one of the easiest ways to do this is with games and center-time opportunities.

That’s why I absolutely LOVE these winter counting games! They are super low-prep, which helps us jump right back into learning after the break. Plus, they focus on skills that my students might need a little “refresh” on. And finally, they’re incredibly useful in “reminding” my kiddos how we run centers and small groups after the break. All in all, these winter counting games make my job so much easier and make my stuually excited to work on math!

So if you’re looking for a super simple way to target counting skills for numbers 1-10, while maximizing your time, take a peek at my winter counting games. These activities are designed to save you time, boost engagement, and make learning to count fun!

Counting Games For The Whole Year

The fun doesn’t have to stop with winter counting games! There are plenty of other fun math games in my TPT shop that will make planning your math centers a breeze! Here are a few more options to take a peek at:

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Hi, I’m Julie!

If you are looking for hands-on, engaging kindergarten activities, you came to the right place!

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