Unifix Counting Towers

By Joan Moss and Bev Caswell

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Curriculum РNumber Sense and Numerations


  • Investigate (e.g., using a number line, a hundreds carpet, a board game with numbered squares) the idea that quantity is greater when counting forward and less when counting backwards.
  • Investigate some concepts of quantity through identifying and comparing sets with more, fewer, or the same number of objects.
  • Begin to make use of one-to-one correspondence in counting objects and matching groups of objects.


  • Child working one-on-one with an educator.


Math Menu


Child works on number line to create a staircase of unified towers representing the numbers one to ten.


  • Teacher starts by asking the child to point to each number on the number line and read the numerals.
  • Teacher turns the pack of randomized 1 to 10 number cards upside down. Alternative to the number cards, ten square tiles with numbers on one side, also turned upside down, can be used.
  • Teacher invites the child to select a number card (e.g., 6), read the number, then build the corresponding “tower” (in this case, 6 unifix cubes tall), and carefully place that tower on the corresponding number on the number line.
  • Child continues this activity until they have turned over every card and has completed building the staircase of towers from one to ten.

Questions to Extend Student Thinking

Ask questions such as:

  • When you look at your towers, can you tell how many more blocks there are in the tower 5 than the tower 4?
  • How many less blocks are there in the tower 7 than the tower 9?
  • (When the child pulls out the number card 4) Is that tower going to be taller or shorter than tower 6?


Play the same game, but this time have the child build towers that are going to sit on a reverse number line, going backwards from 10 to 1.