Lesson 1

Fingers as a Math Tool

Lesson Purpose

The purpose of this lesson is for students to recognize, name, and show quantities with their fingers.

Lesson Narrative

Fingers are helpful for representing quantities because they are familiar and always available to students. Sometimes students may be embarrassed about using their fingers. Students should be encouraged to use their fingers whenever they find them helpful. In upcoming lessons, students may find using their fingers helpful when comparing quantities. In later units, students may find using their fingers helpful with topics such as counting on and addition and subtraction. The structure of fingers also encourages students to notice how numbers are related to 5 and 10. The kindergarten materials always show quantities beginning with the left pinky. Numbers 6–10 continue with the thumb on the right hand.

Fingers counting.

When demonstrating this, begin with the right pinky and palms facing out, so that students see the fingers raising from left to right. When students raise their fingers in this way, their palms will be facing out. While this is the way the curriculum presents quantities on fingers for consistency, any way that students choose or are able to represent quantities on their fingers should be accepted.

  • Representation
  • MLR8

Learning Goals

Teacher Facing

  • Recognize and name groups of 1–10 fingers without counting.
  • Show the number of fingers for a spoken number name.

Student Facing

  • Let’s show numbers with our fingers.

Required Materials

Materials to Gather

Materials to Copy

  • Math Fingers Cards

Required Preparation

Activity 3:

  • Gather materials from: 
    • Pattern Blocks, Stages 1-3
    • Picture Books, Stages 1 and 2

CCSS Standards


Lesson Timeline

Warm-up 10 min
Activity 1 10 min
Activity 2 10 min
Activity 3 25 min
Lesson Synthesis 5 min
Cool-down 0 min

Teacher Reflection Questions

When do your students feel successful in math? How do you know?

Print Formatted Materials

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Student Task Statements pdf docx
Lesson Cover Page pdf docx
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Teacher Presentation Materials pdf docx
Blackline Masters zip

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