Putting It All Together (Webcast No. 6): Bag Grab Lesson

Teachers use bags numbered from zero to ten to encourage children to jump, clap, and count to ten. Teaching teams may use this game to help children count and better understand the concept of “zero” and improve their counting skills.

Setting:  whole group + small groups – near the end of the year

what happened before the lesson?  |   What's happening during the lesson?  |   What will I do after the lesson?

What's happening during the lesson?

Objective: Children will jump, clap, and count out quantities from 0 to 10.

I showed one bag to children and asked them to jump, clap, and show that number of fingers. I explained that the game we were going to play required that they do that for any bag that is labeled in this way.

bag grab diagram

Each bag had the numeral label, the dot label and a completed ten frame.


  1. Goal: Fill the most bags with the correct number of pom-poms in the time allotted.
  2. Children work in small groups with a Center Teacher.
  3. Materials needed: 1 plastic hoop for two groups filled with pom-poms and 11 labeled plastic bags 0 to 10. The filled plastic hoop should be placed about 2 yards from the two groups who are sharing the hoop. 
  4. To play the game, one child in the group selects a labeled bag, runs to the hoop, jumps the number of times shown on the label, claps that number of times, and fills the bag with that number of times. 
  5. When that child returns to the group, another child selects a bag and repeats the same procedure. 
  6. When time is called, each group counts the number of correct bags they have and the groups with the most bags are declared the winners.  

What happened before the lesson?

Where did the idea come from?
Dr. Carol Greenes from Boston University mentioned this idea at a conference. Although I did not know many of the details, I loved the idea and incorporated it into this game.

What had the children learned BEFORE this lesson?
Most children knew the counting sequence from 1–15. They were also used to working in small groups. They had not been introduced to the quantity ZERO.

What did you plan to do AFTER this lesson?
More activities and games that used the concept of ZERO. The number cubes that are typically labeled with 1-6 or 1-3 will be changed to 0–5 or 0-2 so that children can practice moving 0 spaces or collecting 0 items.

What will I do after the lesson?

What would you do differently if you taught it again?
Because I had many Center Teachers in this class, I decided to play this game as a whole class with small groups led by Center Teachers. If I was teaching it in a more typical  classroom, I would play the game with two small groups of children at a time. The whole class would be involved only after practice.

What surprised you about the children during this lesson?
Initially, the children all selected the bag with the largest number to be filled first.  When I revisited the rules, they then selected the bags labeled with 1, 2, or 3. They ignored the zero bag for many turns. Finally, one child brought the zero bag to the hoop, stood there for a minute and then ran back to her groups, shouting “Zero is easy… you don’t do anything!” Suddenly, every group selected the zero bag and the game progressed.  A neat discovery for everyone!

How would you describe the teaching that occurred using the words on the Continuum of Teaching Behaviors?
For the most part the Center Teachers SCAFFOLDED the children’s learning.

Putting It All Together (Webcast No. 6): Bag Grab Lesson. HHS/ACF/OHS. 2008. English. Streaming Video. 00:02:15.

Last Reviewed: May 2012

Last Updated: January 6, 2017