KinderGals: Using 5 Little Ducks to Teach Math and Literacy

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Using 5 Little Ducks to Teach Math and Literacy

Five Little Ducks is a song that I think every teacher knows. When I first started teaching, I learned lots of fingerplays and songs. But it wasn't until much later that I knew the power of songs and chants in the kindergarten classroom. Here's a few things that makes songs and chants powerful.

Five Little Ducks



  • When singing with kids, children develop prosody. Prosody is the natural rhythm in fluent reading. The only ways to develop prosody is through songs, poems, and chants AND through repeated reading.
  • Charting your songs is also beneficial. By charting the song children see the text to talk connection. You can use the chart to teach any concepts of print--letters, words, directionality, punctuation, capital and lower case, etc.
  • When the chart is interactive, children can take an active role in the reading.


  • When using songs and charts in math, you must first decide on the standard. Do you want to teach counting, one less, combinations for 5, subtraction, etc.?
  • Be sure the standard is kept front and center. As you are singing the song, keep using the language to teach the standard. For example, after singing the song you might say, "There were 5 ducks but one went away. What number is one less than 5?" OR " There are 4 ducks in the pond, how many have gone away?"
  • Making the song into a little book is also useful. When children are learning any new mathematical concept, the learning should begin at the conceptual level. Conceptual level means to manipulate. Think about this: When reading the library book "5 Little Ducks" the children think that when you turn to the page with 4 ducks, these are 4 NEW ducks---the 5 ducks are still on the page before. This means that children at the conceptual level truly don't understand the mathematical concept that you are trying to teach. (Reading the book is at the pictorial level.)
  • When reading the song book and turn the pages, only one duck is moved. The 4 other ducks remain at the bottom.
  • Does this mean that we shouldn't read library books with math concepts. NO, not at all. However, think of how you can work at the conceptual level so that the children understand. Think about having 5 plastic ducks or 5 clip art images. Then, as you are reading the book, manipulate the ducks to show the kids what is happening.
You can find this chart and book in the 5 Little Ducks Interactive Chart unit.
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Corey Meyers said...

Looks like you got some spam on your blog...I was wondering, do you have a place where you explain the interactive charts? What does that mean? I noticed it's a center on another post and wondered what the kids do with it?

Kim and Megan said...

Hey Corey,
For interactive charts:
1. There are pieces that can be manipulated. So for this chart, the ducks and the numerals can be removed and the numerals can be changed
1. They can be used as a transition to move kids from one activity to another.
2. They can be used as a shared reading to cover any print concepts that you would cover with a big book or focus poem.
3. They are a great center where kids can practice those early reading skills. It's fun to watch them "be the teacher."
Hope this helps...

Corey Meyers said...

Thank you! I LOVE your blog!

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