Counting Activity after reading Island Counting 1 2 3 by Frané Lessac

We love the book Island Counting 1 2 3 by Fracé Lessac! This book, at first, looks simple and can easily be read through quickly. But with further inspection, you see the detail that was added to layer the counting opportunities for young readers on every page of this board book. For example, the page for “three painted houses sitting high on a hill” (Island Counting 1 2 3, Frané Lessac) shows three houses. But looking closely, there are also three children, three cats, three windows on each home, three blades of grass drawn together, and so much more.

This book was excellent for me to help my son build his vocabulary and practice talking more. I would ask him to identify colors, items, as well as say the words. My kids loved the bright colors found throughout the pages. We compared the illustrations in this book to photographs we took when we visited family in Cuba a few years ago. Then I talked about Cuba is also an island, which is similar to the island in the book.

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Counting Game with Island Counting 1 2 3 

While reading the book, we paused on each page and had a contest of finding the most examples of that number on the page. For instance, on page five, we looked for groups of five throughout the page, such as five hats, five buttons, five pineapples, etc. The person to find the most examples won for that page. We then turned the page and discovered more. My kids loved looking extra closely at the smallest of details by the end of the book, and it reinforced counting skills simultaneously. You can also use wiki sticks to circle what you find for added focus while counting.

Water Bead Counting Activity with Island Counting 1 2 3

My kids love water beads, and since this book has an island setting, I could use it to build a water and sand activity using the IKEA FLISAT table for some sensory fun.

Water beads are still small in this photo and grew to fill the entire base of the bin.

Materials for this Water & Sand Sensory Counting Activity

BIN 1: 

  • Water beads
  • 20 mini ocean erasers (For counting by five’s, I used 5 of each ocean creature) 
  • Blue, white, dark blue water beads 
  • Water (Follow directions on water bead package for the correct amount of water)
  • Tool Bin: Scoops, cups, paint container for sorting

BIN 2: 

  • Sand
  • Rocks
  • Painted lentils
  • Ocean figurines (I tried to include 10 to practice counting) 
  • Tool bin from BIN 1

Process & Play Ideas for Water & Sand Sensory Counting Activity: 

  1. Set up water beads in water and add 20 mini erasers into the bin. Shake around to combine. 
  2. Set up BIN 2 by adding ten ocean figures to the bottom of the bin. 
  3. Then add sand and rocks to the lower half of the container to cover the figurines. 
  4. Then add the blue-painted lentils to the top half of the tray. I used painted lentils, but rice, couscous, or even blue-colored Epson salt would be perfect for this activity. 
  5. Enjoy exploring and counting! 

I usually let my kids help me set up the tray for the day, but for this activity, I tried hiding the ten ocean figures at the bottom of BIN 2. As they found the item, I would count loudly and have them line them up on the table. After they found all ten, I let them enjoy free play. After about 30 minutes or so, I opened the other side of the table and let them explore the water beads. I had my kids sort the ocean erasers into groups of five, and we practiced counting again. Then again, they enjoyed the inquiry-based play. We used this table activity again over multiple days. 

I love letting my kids play right away when the water beads first go into the water and then continue to play as they grow. It makes for great size comparison discussions.

We read this book after reading and playing with Mermaid Books & Activities and Ten Little Fish by Audrey Wood activities.

Thank you so much for visiting Live Learn Literacy. I hope you enjoyed it. If you have other books you would like educational activities to connect to, please contact me at or on Instagram @LiveLearnLiteracy. 

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