Skip counting is being able to count forwards and backwards in multiples, such as twos, fours, fives, tens, etc. Skip counting is an important skill as it helps kids develop fluency in calculation and is the basis for multiplication and division.

I love watching kids learning to play with numbers, but I’ve noticed that there are certain areas where they tend to get stuck, such as:

- Moving beyond place value barriers (for example getting past 100 when counting by 10s)
- Starting to count at any number that’s not a multiple. For example, once students can count in 10’s starting at 10 or 20 or 50. Can they count in 10’s starting at 12 or 33?
- Being able to skip count both forwards and backwards at any number.

As I said, skip counting can affect kids fluency with later math (which can then affect their confidence or frustration levels), so it’s important to help kids past these barriers.

## 4 fun skip counting activities

These games and activities give kids lots of practice with skip counting, and you can adjust them as kids gain knowledge to get them past sticking points.

## Play Buzz

My kids always enjoy playing Buzz, which is also called Beep. You don’t need any materials to play this game—bonus!

- Have the group stand in a circle.
- Choose a starting point and ending point. (This is where you can adjust the game based on your kids abilities and any obstacles you want to overcome.)
- Tell students they will buzz on any multiple of 10.
- Begin by counting around the circle in ones, but when a student comes to the number that is a multiple of 10, they say “buzz” instead.
- For example, a correct sequence would be, “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, BUZZ, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, BUZZ, 21 ….”
- If a student forgets to say buzz, then they are out of the game and must sit down. The game finishes when you reach the end number.

This game can be so easily changed to suit the various ability levels of your kids. You could start at a number that it is not one, begin counting at numbers that are not a multiple, count backwards or even include more than one multiple. Just make sure kids are clear on what multiples they should buzz on.

## Try skip counting using collections

Unlike Buzz, skip counting using collections takes a little bit of set up. Kids love counting collections, so it’s worth the set up time.

You’ll need small objects for students to count, resealable bags to keep collections in, and containers to count into.

If you’re focusing on counting by tens, have your students count out ten of the objects to make one collection.

They continue counting collections of ten until they are all gone. Then they skip count to find the total number of the objects. They can then record this collection on a tracking sheet or whiteboard.

## Use a hundreds grids

Hundreds grids are fantastic to use to show skip counting, and all you need is a **hundreds grid** and some clear counters **like these ones**. (Clear counters allow students to see the numbers through the counter.)

If skip counting is new to your students, get them to count by ones up to the first multiple. So if counting by tens have your students count by ones until they reach ten. Then have them place the first counter on ten. Then get them to count ten more, place a counter. They will soon see the pattern and will probably just be able to add the counter to the next number without counting ten each time.

Once your students are comfortable with this, then get them to start at a different number such as 17, or have them try using the chart to count backwards from 100.

## Practice with skip counting puzzles

Skip counting puzzles are another fun way to practice skip counting to get kids past their skip counting barriers.

The puzzles are for multiples of two, three, four, five and ten. The set includes different puzzles that cover all of the barriers mentioned above.

**The puzzle sequences counting forwards include: **

2 – 20; 2 – 24; 30 – 52; 15 – 33; and 91 – 113.

3 – 30; 3 – 36; 90 – 123; 21 – 54; and 97 – 130.

4 – 40; 4 – 48; 52 – 96; 33 – 77; and 96 – 140.

5 – 50; 5 – 60; 70 – 125; 17 – 72; and 185 – 240.

10 – 100; 10 – 120; 40 – 150; 13 – 103; and 27 – 137.

**The puzzle sequences counting backwards include: **

20 – 2; 24 – 2; 150 – 128; 103 – 85; and 190 – 68.

30 – 3; 36 – 3; 120 – 87; 99 – 66; and 220 – 187.

40 – 4; 48 – 4; 184 – 140; 272 – 228; and 99 – 55.

50 – 5; 60 – 5; 130 – 75; 89 – 34; and 325 – 270.

100 – 10; 120 – 10; 170 – 60; 109 – 19; and 144 – 34.

## You can get your own version of the skip counting puzzles here.

All four of these activities can be used for practice when you first introduce skip counting and adapted as your students get more adept but need to break through barriers such as getting stuck at a place value or counting from numbers that aren’t a multiple.

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