Preschool – Animal Numbers

Section 1: Welcome to the Activity

Activity Synopsis

Students count animal body parts from zero to five. They will use hand motions to act out the animal while learning about numbers.

The learner will be able to:
  • Count from zero to 5.
  • Recognize animals from pictures.
  • Use hand motions to act out animals.

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Section 2: Standards

APL-1, APL-2, APL-3, APL-4, APL-8
HPD-2, HPD-4
LDC-1, LDC-2, LDC-3, LDC-4, LDC-6, LDC-7, LDC-10, LDC-11
MTE-1, MTE-3
CD-2, CD-4, CD-5, CD-6, CD-10, CD-11

Section 3: Background

During this activity, students will learn numbers by counting animal body parts. The animals and the body parts that are the focus in the activity include:

0 – snake legs
1 – horseshoe crab tail
2 – fish eyes
3 – alligator eyelids
4 – turtle feet
5 – sea star arms

Here is some background information on the animals and the body part that will be counted.

Snakes are reptiles with scaly skin. They do not have legs, but instead slither using their muscles. Most snakes live on land and slither on the ground where they hide under leaves and sticks or climb trees to hang out in branches. A few snakes are good swimmers and live in ponds, lakes, marshes or the sea. There are more than 3600 known species of snakes in the world. 38 different species live in South Carolina.

Horseshoe Crab
Horseshoe crabs are actually not crabs. They are more closely related to spiders. They were named crabs before that was known and because they have a hard shell (exoskeleton) covering their body for protection. Horseshoe crabs live in the ocean where they can hide in the sand. They have their mouth, legs and gills on the bottom of their body. They have one long tail to help them flip over if they get stuck upside down.

Fish are animals that live in water with scales covering their body, gills to help them breathe underwater and fins to help them swim. They have two eyes to help them see. Most fish have eyes in the front of their head (helps them see in front of them). Some fish have eyes on the top of their head (to see above them). While some fish have eyes on the bottom of their head to see below them.

Alligators are reptiles with scaly skin. They have a long body, long tail, strong jaws and a lot of teeth (80-100). Alligators have eyes and a nose on the top of their head allowing them to see and breathe out of the water while keeping their body hiding in the water. Each eye has 3 eyelids. They have a top and bottom eyelid to close while they sleep. They also have a clear “eyelid” or membrane (called a nictitating membrane) to help see under water. This third eyelid helps protect their eyes from dirt and debris in the water. It’s like they have a built-in pair of goggles.

Turtles are reptiles with scaly skin. They also have a shell on the top and bottom if their bodies for protection. Turtles live on land, in freshwater and in saltwater. All turtles have 4 feet, but their feet can look very different depending on where they live and how they use them. Turtles on land have stumpy feet and claws for walking and digging. Turtles that live in freshwater, like a pond or lake, have webbed feet to help them swim and claws to help them get out of water.  Turtles that live in the ocean have feet called flippers that are very strong for swimming.

Sea Star
Sea stars are animals that live in the ocean. Many people call them starfish, but they are not fish. A more accurate name for them is sea star. Most sea stars have 5 arms (but some can have more). Their arms radiate out from their central disk. On the bottom of their arms they have hundreds of tiny “feet” (called tube feet) that act as suction cups and help the sea star move around. A fun fact is that if a sea start loses an arm, they can grow it back (called regeneration).

Section 4: Procedures

Prep: Cut each animal picture out and fold down the middle so you have the picture on one side and the simple drawing on the other. If you can, laminate them so you can use them over and over. If you can’t, tape them together so you can easily flip them over.

1. Get a discussion going about animals. You could ask the students if they like animals. Ask if any of them have pets. Ask how many pets they have. Chat for a few minutes and then let them know they will learn about some animals today to practice their numbers.

2. Have them count to 5 out loud with you starting at zero. Now have them count to 5 out loud with you, but also using their fingers. (You can have them count to 10 as well, but the activity will only go up to 5)

3. Show them the picture of the snake. Ask them what animal it is. Then ask them how many legs the snake has. Trick question! The answer is zero. Have them make a zero with their hand.

4. Now, turn over the picture and show them the drawing of the snake and the number 0. Talk with them about how snakes don’t have legs, but they slither to move. Have them use their arm to show slithering.

5. Repeat steps 3-4 for each number and animal. Show the picture, name the animal, ask how many ___ they have, have them use their fingers to hold up that number, show them the drawing with the number on it, talk about the animal and then make the movement. Here is a list of the information plus movements you could do (will go along with the song in the next step).

Number Animal Body Part Movement
0 Snake Legs Move are back and forth to slither
1 Horseshoe crab Tail Put hand sticking out behind to look like tail
2 Fish Eyes Make a circle with each hand and put up by eyes
3 Alligator Eyelids Blink eyes over and over
4 Turtle Feet Stomp feet
5 Sea star Arms Make spirit fingers

6. Sing the Animals Numbers Song to the tune of “Mary had a Little Lamb”. Use the movements from above to get the students moving.

Animal Numbers Song
To the tune of “Mary had a Little Lamb

Mr. Snake has 0 legs, 0 legs, 0 legs.
Mr. Snake has 0 legs,
but he can slither fast.

Horseshoe crabs have 1 long tail, 1 long tail, 1 long tail.
Horseshoe crabs have 1 long tail
to help them flip around.

Rainbow fish has 2 big eyes, 2 big eyes, 2 big eyes.
Rainbow fish has 2 big eyes
so she can see to swim.

Alligators have 3 eyelids, have 3 eyelids, have 3 eyelids.
Alligators have 3 eyelids
to swim in the water.

Mrs. Turtle has 4 feet, has 4 feet, has 4 feet.
Mrs. Turtle has 4 feet
to walk and crawl around.

Sea stars have 5 sticky arms, 5 sticky arms, 5 sticky arms.
Sea stars have 5 sticky arms
to stick and not fall down.

Section 5: Cross-Curricular Extensions

ELA Extension
Read one or more of the following books about animals, that includes counting.
“Count the Dinosaurs” by Books for Little Ones
“1, 2, 3, Animals! A First Counting Book for Toddlers” by Bethany Lake
“Baby’s Love Numbers” by Scarlett Wing
“My First Numbers” by Simon Abbott

Science and Math Extension
Have the students come up with a body part they have that equals zero, one, two, three, four and five. There can be many answers, but here is a start:

0 – as a human we have no tail
1 – head, mouth, nose, belly button
2 – eyes, ears, arms, legs, feet
3 – hard one…joints in each finger (not thumb)
4 – extremities (arms + legs), eyelids
5 – senses, fingers on each hand, toes on each foot

Math Extension
Point to something in the room and have them count how many they see. For example: doors, windows, tables, chairs or people.

Science Extension
Have them find something in the room that is the same color as each of the animals from the activity.

STEAM Extension
Give them finger paints or crayons and some paper. Let them make their own animal from the activity.

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