Who's on First?

Integrating curriculum is easy when it comes to math and literature. There are so many wonderful books available that cannot only enlighten students in literacy but strengthen math skills as well. Using literature is one of the easiest ways to teach students the use of ordinal numbers. We are constantly asking our students, “What happened first in the story?” As Marilyn Burns,the creator and founder of Math Solutions Professional Development says,“Evidence shows that teaching math through children’s books motivates children to learn math in exciting new ways, encourages students to think and reason mathematically and builds students’ appreciation for math and literature." Many literature books today are written with an emphasis on mathematics. Teachers need to build a library of literature books with a mathematical connection. Using literature is a way to engage students in learning mathematics. It helps students understand that mathematics is connected to the real world and can solve real world problems. Various activities help kindergarteners understand and use simple ordinal numbers. This is a comprehensive lesson for ordinal numbers that utilizes trade books.

Standards & Objectives

Learning objectives: 

Intended Learning Outcomes:

  • Demonstrate a positive learning attitude. 
  • Understand and use basic concepts and skills. 
  • Communicate clearly in oral, artistic, written, and nonverbal form.

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Extension suggestions: 


  • Literature books are the perfect extension for ordinal numbers. Students can recall the order of events from any book (e.g., ask the students what happened first, second, third, etc.).
  • Everyday events in the classroom can be discussed using ordinal numbers (e.g., the first thing we do when we get to school is?).
  • The fishing net, from the invitation to learn, could be used to have students identify attributes or patterns.
  • Have a classroom contest and give prizes using the words first place, second place, third place,etc.
  • Use stuffed animals and have the students line them up. Ask students which animal is first? Second? Third? Turn the animals around and ask the same questions.
  • The calendar is a perfect way to introduce ordinal numbers. Point out to students that when we say the date, we are using ordinal numbers.
  • Sequencing activities lend themselves nicely to the use of ordinal numbers.




  • 10 Little Rubber Ducks, by EricCarle; ISBN0-060-74075-2 
  • First, Second, by Daniel Kharms;ISBN0-374-32339-9 
  • Henry the Fourth, byStuart J. Murphy;ISBN0-06-446719-8 
  • On the Stairs, by Julie HofstrandLarios;ISBN1-886910-34-0 
  • Seven Blind Mice, byEd Young;ISBN0-329-04408-7 
  • The Hat, by JanBrett; ISBN0-399-23101-3 
  • The Mitten, byJan Brett; ISBN 0-590-44015-2 
  • The Twelve Days of Christmas, by Jack Kent; ISBN 0-590-06163-1 
  • The Twelve Days of Kindergarten, by Deborah Lee Rose; ISBN0-8109-4512-6 
  • The Twelve Days of Summer, by Jan Andrews; ISBN 1-55143-365-6 
  • The Twelve Days of Winter, byDeborah Lee Rose; ISBN 0-439-92932-6 
  • Where’s Harley?, byCarol andAmanda Felton; ISBN: 1-57565-132-7