On and Under: Where Is the Kitten?

Use a School Readiness Activity to provide early mathematics thinking experiences for preschool children that will prepare them to do well in the early grades.
Mathematics (5,024)


On and Under: Where Is the Kitten?


  • To experience the concepts of on and under
  • To compare positions in space
  • To be able to correctly use the positional words on and under
  • To use the strategy show with objects

Paper rectangles to represent a bed, an assortment of kittens (cutouts, circles, or counters) to put on and under the bed
Prepare ahead of time.

Literature Suggestion
Read Don't Jump on the Bed by Tedd Arnold. Ask children to explain the difference between "on the bed" and "under the bed."


Play "Simon Says" for a kinesthetic approach to the concepts of on and under.
  • Simon Says, put your hand: on your head, under the table, on your nose, under your chair, on your shoulder, under your chin.
  • When the children understand the concepts of on and under, teach them the "Little Kitten Chant."
    I have a little kitten I have a little kitten
    And his name is Ted. And his name is Ted.
    Can you guess where Can you guess where
    he likes to play? he likes to hide?
    Right ON the bed!Right UNDER the bed!
    (One hand placed on the top of the head.)     (One hand under the chin.)


At tables, play "On the Bed or Under the Bed."
  • Provide each child with a construction paper rectangle for a bed and 3 kittens.
  • Count the kittens with the children until they are comfortable with objects to 3. Ask children to place all of the kittens on the top of the paper bed and tell you how many they see. (3) Ask children to place all of the kittens under the bed and tell you how many they see on the bed. (None or 0)
  • Ask children to place 1 kitten on the bed and 2 kittens under the bed. Then ask them to tell you how many kittens are on the bed (1) and under the bed (2).
  • Continue the activity until children are adept at telling how many kittens are on or under the bed.
  • Teacher Tip: To develop number sense, do this activity often, with different animals.
Make the activity more challenging by increasing the number to 4, 5, 6, etc.

Observation Assessment

  • Proficient - Child can put items on or under a table or paper, and can tell how many are in each position.
  • In Process - Child needs help to tell how many are under a table or paper.
  • Not Yet Ready - Child does not yet differentiate the meaning of on from under.

Excerpted from

School Readiness Activity Cards
Pearson Early Childhood
Excerpted from School Readiness Activity Cards. The Preschool Activity Cards provide engaging and purposeful experiences that develop language, literacy, and math skills for preschool children.

Your Free Gift

The Ultimate Back-to-School Guide

Teachers are always thinking about their students, but devotion to their progress shouldn’t come at the expense of your own. That’s why we’ve created an “Ultimate Back-to-School Guide” for teachers based on our nine future-ready skill domains.

What you can expect from this guide:

  • Learn 9 ways to become a better teacher by developing a positive mindset.
  • Links to dozens of free resources curated by our experts to help you both in and outside the classroom.
  • Clear steps to improve your teaching and general well-being.

Sign up for a premium membership to get your Ultimate Back-to-School Guide absolutely free!


ultimate back-to-school guide for teachers