Counting book

ES1 – A thinking mathematically context for practise focussed on collecting and representing quantities using everyday objects


Syllabus outcomes and content descriptors from Mathematics K–10 Syllabus © NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for and on behalf of the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales, 2023


  • MAO-WM-01
  • MAE-RWN-01
  • MAE-RWN-02
  • MAE-CSQ-01
  • MAE-CSQ-02

Collect resources

You will need:

  • colour pencils or markers

  • 5 zip-lock bags

  • a stapler

  • piece of cardboard.


Watch Counting book part 1 video (1:53).

Create a counting book using everyday items.


Hi everybody, we thought we'd show you really quickly today how to make a version of Holly's counting book.

So, to do this what you need is a piece of cardboard or paper, some zip-lock bags, a marker and a stapler.

For younger kids it's probably easier to just open their zip-lock bags a little bit to get them started.

[Displayed on screen is a counting book, which the presenter moves to the left side, zip-lock bags, 1 black marker and a sheet of A4 white cardboard. Presenter opens zip-lock bags and places them in a row with the sheet of carboard flat on the bench.]

And these become the pages of your book, so we line them up quite neatly, put them into the cardboard. I like to do a bit of a fold along the edge so that it's nice and sturdy. And fold it in again.

Make sure the pages of the book are really tight in, grab the stapler, and there's your book.

[Presenter folds the cardboard approximately 2.5 centimetres and aligns the zip-lock bags to be in between the folded edge of the carboard so that the zip-lock bags will be the pages for the book. Presenter folds the cardboard over again, ensuring that all of the zip-lock pages are level. She then uses the stapler to staple across the folded cardboard so that the pages all stay in place.]

Now your book usually needs a title so we could have Holly's book of....

[Presenter writes on the folded cardboard, Holly’s book ….]

And because there are lots of different opportunities in this one, we said Holly's Book of 5. But we could also do things like Holly's Book of shapes, or Holly's Book of triangles if we wanted to be more specific about a particular shape. Holly's Book of 12 if we wanted to keep looking at numbers and even things like Holly's Book of things that are taller than Sunny.

[Presenter picks up and displays the other book before placing it back down on the left side. She then places sticky notes with the labels: shapes, triangles, 12, and taller than sunny after the book title, indicating the different titles that could be used for the book.]

Enjoy making.

And reading.

[End of transcript]

How to make a counting book

  • Open the zip-lock bags.

  • Lay the bags on the cardboard, like pages of a book.

  • Take the remaining cardboard and fold it over the bags to form the spine of the book.

  • Staple it into place.

  • Finally, give the book a title!

Create your own book on a maths idea

  • For example, you could make a book about 5.
  • Go on a ‘5 hunt’ to find different ways of showing 5.

  • Create your own book about 5.

  • Read and share your book with someone in your family.

  • Draw your favourite page from the book you made in your mathematics workbook.


Watch Holly read her counting book (1:58).

Holly explains representations of 5 in her counting book.


Hi Holly!




I see you are back from your hunt.

[Screen shows a book made up of pages of zip-lock bags. Inside the bags, there are items.]


Uh huh.


Great, what did you find? Can you read your story to me?


So, what I have here, so there is a 5 dollar note and then some blocks.

[Speaker opens book. The first page has a 5 dollar note inside a zip-lock bag. She turns to the next page which contains 5 blocks made up of 2 pink blocks, 1 red block, 1 blue block and 1 yellow block.]


Some Blocks and what's what's in there? What can you see?


5, see 2 pinks and then 3. See look 1, 2, 3 4 and then 5.

[Speaker points and counts out each block.]


Oh, I see. So, I can see there's a 2, 3, 4, 5 and that's 5 great. What else have you got?


I got... a 5 dollar... I have a 5 cent coin.

[Presenter turns to the next page which contains a 5-cent coin.]


Oh, you have seen a 5 on a coin as well. Oops it is a little bit stuck there. Look at all these different ways you've found 5! OK.

[Presenter shakes the bag to show coin.]


And I got this from my Lego shop.

[Presenter turns to the next page which contains a small piece of paper with the number 5 written on it.]


Let's have a look at this one.


Yes, so this is the number 5.


Oh, wow did you write that 5 yourself?


Uh huh.


Wow. Excellent, Ok what's the next one in your story.


This is my Lego blocks.

[Presenter turns to the next page which contains 5 Lego blocks.]


Oh oh, it's a bit hard to see the 5. Can you show me where the 5 is?


See look. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

[Presenter points to the blocks, counting them out to 5.]


Oh wow! I can see the 5 now... 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.


See look if you take away that one it is 4. See 2 plus 2 equals 4 and 1 more equals 5.


Oh great I wonder what else we can find that we have 5 of.

[End of transcript.]


Share your work with your class on your digital platform. You may like to:​

  • share your discoveries
  • write comments​
  • share pictures of your work​
  • comment on the work of others.

Advice for parents

Here is part of a different conversation to help illustrate what it can sound like when talking to your child about their book.

Adult: You went on a hunt around the house to find different ways of representing 5. Can you read your book to me?

Holly: Yes. I have 5 pegs.

Adult: How do you know that is 5?

Holly:’s 2 pink and the 3. That makes 5.

Adult: I see...that’s 2 and then 3, 4, 5 [touching one object for each number word that is said]. What else have you got in your book?

Holly: This one is 5 dollars... see there’s 3 here and 2 more. That’s five. This one is my mum’s hand.

Adult: How do you know that’s five?

Holly: Because she has 5 fingers on her hand.

Adult: Look at all the different ways you found 5! Let’s find someone else to read it to!

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