Counting quackers

23rd January 1998 at 00:00
This is a series of maths activities for infants and lower juniors and can be used in a number of ways. For example, you can make multiple photocopies or hold the pages up as you would with a big book. An extra set of ducks is printed for cutting out. Try to mount and laminate them if possible.

Other counting and calculation questions are implicit in the pictures. There should also be open-ended discussion about numbers, ordering, number relationships, calculations and spatial movement.


"Three ducks, four ducks, off we go - Counting quackers in a row!" Now the ducks are lining up for their medicine from the vet.

Are all the ducks there?

Which duck is first to have medicine?

Which duck will be last to have medicine?

Which duck will be third to have medicine?


"One duck, two ducks, sing a song - Counting quackers all day long!" How many ducks have glasses?

How many ducks have both hats and glasses?

How many ducks have no hats and no glasses?


"Five ducks, six ducks, swim and swoop - Counting quackers group by group!" The ducks are playing on four ponds. Are they all here?

* How many ducks are on Rosebud Pond? How many on Yewtree Pond? How many on Daffodil Pond? How many on Bluebell Pond?

* How many ducks will there be on each pond if; a) Tim and Lol go to Yewtree Pond? b) Mac and Sal go to Yewtree Pond? c) Dot and Win go to Daffodil Pond?d) Ben, Lol and Jas each go to a different pond? e) If half the ducks go to Yewtree Pond? (There is more than one answer to d and e.) * If nine more ducks arrive, how many will there be altogether?

* If the new ducks split equally between Yewtree Pond, Daffodil Pond and Rosebud Pond, how many ducks will there be on each pond?

* If one of the nine new ducks goes to Yewtree Pond and the rest share themselves equally between Daffodil Pond and Bluebell Pond, how many ducks will there be on each pond now?

* If one of the nine new ducks decides not to swim, and a quarter of the rest go to each of the ponds, how many ducks will there be on each pond now?


"Seven ducks, eight ducks, sip and sup - Counting quackers, bottoms up!" Our ducks are back in their pond.

Are they all there?

How many ducks are ducking under?

What are their names?

How many are not under water?

If one more duck decides to duckunder, how many ducks will be ducking now?

How many will not be ducking?

If half the ducks decide to duck under, how many ducks will be ducking now?

How many will not be ducking?


"Nine ducks, ten ducks, swish and swosh - Counting quackers, splish, splash, splosh!" Now the ducks are swimming quietly after all the excitement.

Are they all there?

Draw a line round all the ducks with hats. This is the set of ducks with hats.

Draw a line round all the ducks with glasses. This is the set of ducks with glasses.

Can you see a set of ducks with both hats and glasses?

Can you see a duck which has neither hat nor glasses?


Page 27

NC KS1 PoS "Number" 2a

Objectives: count to 10; know number names; recognise sequences; count in twos and threes.

* Discuss ways of counting

* Where do you start to count?

* How do you know when you have counted all the ducks?

* Do the names help?

* Does it help to keep a tally, or write anything down?

Pages 28 and 29

NC KS1 PoS "Number" 2b

Objectives: order numbers to 10.

* Discuss ordinal numbers - who is first, who is second? etc.

* Discuss words and phrases such as "before", "next to", etc.

* Use the line of waiting ducks for counting on and back.

Pages 30 and 31

NC KS1 PoS "Using and Applying" 3b 3c 4a 4b, "Number" 2c 3c, KS2 "Number" 3c

Objectives: add and subtract to 10; add and subtract to 20; mathematical questions - "what if?"; halves and quarters.

* The arrival of nine extra ducks in the distance presents more chances for "what if" questions at varying levels of difficulty. (Note - after each "what if" question, pupils may ask whether the ducks should go back to their starting points. This assumption should be made, but you could also discuss the effects of cumulative moves.) Use the paths around the ponds to generate "what if"questions such as: using only the paths, can each duck leave his or her pond, swim in two more ponds and go straight back? Or, can any ducks leave their pond, visit three more ponds, then return to their first pond?l Discuss the words and symbols for plus and minus.

Page 32

NC KS1 PoS "Number" 2a Objectives: counting to 10; addition and subtraction.

* Think up "what ifs" based on the number of ducks ducking.

Page 33

NC KS1 PoS "Using and Applying" 4a, "Number" 5a

Objectives: see groups and patterns; sort and classify.

* Draw lines to create sets of 1) ducks with glasses 2) ducks with hats (look at the effect on ducks with both, and the one duck with neither).

Cut out and keep

Make paper duck ponds or photocopy the four ponds with the ducks masked out. Use the cut-outs to stimulate discussion and mental arithmetic.


"I use a variety of forms of mathematical presentation, eg read stories (using) mathematical ideas and vocabulary" Mathematics and the Use of Language - Qualifications and Curriculum Authority 1997

"Count orally up to 10 and beyond, know the number names; count collections of objects, checking the total ... recognise and use in context simple fractions including halves and quarters. Consolidate knowledge of addition and subtraction facts to 20 ..."

National Curriculum

"Interest in mathematics and an appreciation of its value can be developed through activities which help pupils to find pleasure and satisfactionI" Scottish National Guidelines Mathematics 5-14

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today