Two, four, six, eight …
Five, ten, fifteen, twenty …
Skip counting by certain numbers becomes so ingrained that it’s easy to forget that this isn’t an immediate concept. Skip counting is being able to count by multiples such as 2 or 5 or 10. Usually, kids learn to count forward by a certain number and then learn to count backwards by the same number. Students need to know how to skip count in both directions.
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Why skip counting matters
Skip counting is important in developing fluency in calculation. That means kids who can skip count can calculate more quickly and with more ease. Skip counting is also the basis for multiplication and division. If you are sending skip counting practice home, it helps to provide parents with an explanation about what it is and why it matters.
5 ways to teach skip counting
Some numbers lend themselves to skip counting. Think about the 2-4-6-8 chant or rattling off the 10s (10-20-30-40-50 …). Twos, fives, and tens are good starting points for kids, but skip counting doesn’t end there. Once they get the concept, kids should practice skip counting with a variety of numbers—and do it forward and backward.
Here are 5 activities I like to use to practice skip counting with my students.
Skip counting with number charts
It’s easy to use hundreds grids to demonstrate and practice skip counting. You’ll need a number chart or hundreds grid and clear counters (like these ones) that allow students to mark a number but still see it.
If you are just introducing skip counting, get students to count by ones up to the first multiple. For example, if you are going to skip count by tens, have students count by ones up to ten. Have them put the first counter on ten. Repeat this, so they count ten more and place another counter at 20. Continue until they see the pattern and are able to add the counter to the next number (30, 40, 50 …) without counting ten each time.
Once students are able to count from one by a multiple, get them to start at a different number such as 9 or 14. Follow the same process until they are able to see and create the pattern again without counting.
Have fun with skip counting puzzles
My students love puzzles and seeing an image come together, and skip counting puzzles are a fun way to practice skip counting. Students put the puzzles together by placing the numbers in order. When the numbers are in the correct order, the puzzles form a variety of fun pictures. I’ve created a series of puzzles covering skip counting by 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 100.
Skip counting with calculators
If you have calculators in your classroom, try using them to practice skip counting. Show students how to add two numbers and then hit equal to add the number again.
For example, punch in 3 + 3 = and the answer will come up 6. Hit = again and the answer will come up 9. Continue to see 12, 15, 18, etc.
Have students work in pairs. One student works the calculator while the other tries to say the next number before it comes up on the calculator. The student with the calculator states the answer. The student working the calculator says and hears the pattern and the other student works on fluency and speed.
Skip counting with manipulatives
Kids love counting different objects. Some set up on your part can create a fabulous skip counting activity.
The set up:
- Fill resealable bags with different objects and different numbers of objects in each to allow you to have bags appropriate for different abilities.
- Provide containers to count the objects into.
Students count out a set of objects. If you’re focusing on counting by tens, then your students count out ten of the objects to make one set. They continue counting sets of ten until the objects are all gone.
Then they skip count to find the total number of the objects. They can then record this set.
Questions to help kids understand skip counting
Once kids understand the basic process of skip counting, and have practiced skip counting by various numbers, try asking them questions. Ask things like:
- How many ways can you count to 35?
- Are there more ways to skip count to 36 or to 45?
- Can you count to 100 by elevens? Why?
- How close can you come to 100 if you skip count by 9s?
These questions get kids thinking and applying the process in different ways.
Don’t skip practice in skip counting. It’s too important of a skill — and there are so many fun ways to do it.
Skip counting made easy
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The Skip Counting Puzzles Bundle includes puzzles for skip counting by 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 100—and provide practice skip counting forward and backward!
Get yours here >> Skip Counting Puzzle Bundle.