Teaching skip counting in the early grades is important for developing arithmetic, fluency and number sense. Skip counting is also important to teach before moving into multiplication and division. The overall goal with skip counting is to have the student be able to count by a number forward and backwards starting at any number.
Skip Counting Inquiry
Give students a large number of objects. Ask them what ways they can think of to be able to count the items faster. If they need help coming up with the answer of skip counting ask them how fast they can count to 100. Can they count to 100 faster by counting by 1’s or 10’s. Skip count together to 100 by 10’s and if you want have one group skip count to 100 by 1’s and see who finishes counting first.
When we count by, or skip count by a number of objects, we group them so this strategy is called grouping.
ACTIVITY #1 Use a Bouncy Ball or Metronome
On a bounce of the ball, count by a number. If you use a metronome you can also have the children stand and sway from side to side to the beat of the metronome as you count by 10, 5, 2’s and finally 3’s, 4’s and so on.
Activity #2 Use the Hundreds Chart
Students will use a hundreds chart to explore skip counting and the patterns that each number produces. Here is a link to my resource that has many skip counting worksheets.
Activity #3 Skip Counting Train
Students will line up in a line (you can use this as an exit ticket activity too) and have the first student choose a number to count by and then have the student say the number and move to the end of the line. The next person will say the next number and move to the end of the line. Do this till all students have had a chance. You might even want to time your class and beat the time next time you do it.
Activity #4 Pass the Paper
Put the students in groups and give them a sheet of paper. Have them sit in a circle around the table. The first person will write the target number and then pass it to the right, that person will add the target number and pass the paper. The point is to have the students write the number they are counting by as quickly as they can.
Activity #5 Slinky Slink Count
Students will hold the slinky in one hand and transfer it to the other as they skip count.
Activity #6 High Five Count
Have students line up side to side. Start the high five train with the first person turning to their left and high five the person and starting with the number 5. Go through the line to count by 5 for each student till you get to the end then switch hands and go back till the high five reaches the first student.
Activity #7 10’s Around the Circle
Ask students how many fingers are on their hands. They will say 10, tell them they will count by 10. Stand or sit in a circle, one by one students will raise both hands above their head and say 10, then they next person will raise their hand and say 20 and around you go.
Once your students are comfortable skip counting, now it is time to shake things up by counting on by the number from any given number. For example, first ask them to count by 1’s from 75. They should have no trouble. Now add the 5’s then 10’s… then move into 2’s, 3’s and so on.
Now you will have them count by BACKWARDS!!!