One of the earliest math skills kids learn is to count. It’s such a joy to witness too, as kids joyfully and excitedly count literally all.the.things. But what comes after counting? Well, lots of things, but today I want to focus particularly on skip counting. What is skip counting? It’s counting by skipping some of the numbers. For example, counting by 2 means skipping every other number: 2, 4, 6, 8, etc. But why does this matter? This is an important math skill because it lays a foundation for multiplication and division. And the great thing is, with these engaging skip counting activities, your kids will have so much fun counting, they won’t even realize they’re working towards multiplication and higher level math!
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Skip Counting Benefits:
There are a lot of benefits of knowing how to skip count.
If kids can skip count, they can more easily and quickly solve multiplication problems. Why? Because a problem such as 8 x 4 means count by 8 four times (or count by 4 eight times). So I can count by 8 to solve this if I don’t know it off the top of my head:
8, 16, 24, 32…8 x 4 = 32
But it also helps when kids get older and start finding multiples. For example, multiples of 8 is the same as skip counting by 8.
Understanding multiples of a number is important in developing fluency with numbers and finding the least common multiple (necessary to work out advanced fraction problems).
Skip counting will also help kids with division, as they can think of a division problem such as 32 divided by 8 as, “How many 8’s are in 32?”
Well, if you count by 8’s, you will see that it takes 4 eights to get to 32. Therefore 32 divided by 8 equals 4.
Skip Counting: Where to Begin
As early as preschool and kindergarten, kids can begin to count by 2, 5 and 10.
Here’s a video to help you learn how to skip count by 5 and 10 using collections.
These numbers should be the initial focus, as they are the easiest.
Depending on your curriculum, you may then work on counting by 3 and 4 in 2nd grade (as you introduce multiplication), and then learn the larger numbers: 6, 7, 8, and 9 in 3rd grade (again, as kids learn and practice multiplication).
In upper elementary, kids should also be able to count on starting at numbers other than 1. For example, count by 5 starting at 12. This is harder, but will increase their fluency and understanding of addition and counting.
So no matter what grade you teach, or what numbers you’re currently working on, I hope this huge resource list is helpful for you!
I’ve organized the following ideas by type, and tried to specify what numbers it focuses on, so you can find something just right for your students.
Hands On & Interactive Activities:
These ideas involve moving or interacting with manipulatives and may require a little prep, but are a great way to get out of the normal routine, or avoid another worksheet!
Skip Counting Hopscotch: Get outside and move with this fun twist on a classic game! Skip count by any number with this game.
Skip Count with Paper Plates & Paper Clips: This is a great fine motor activity, and a great visual for what skip counting represents. Use this to count by any number!
Math Art: Skip Counting Pointillism: I love this fun, yet simple math art project! Practice counting by any number to create unique works of art.
Look for Patterns with a Calculator: Grab the free printable recording pages to help your kids play with skip counting on their calculator and notice patterns.
Include Skip Counting Routines: The first part of this article goes over a very simple classroom counting routine that you can use to skip count by any number, forward or backward, starting at any number. This is an easy, low prep way to practice.
Drawing Patterns: Draw on paper or with sidewalk chalk! Kids will love seeing the shapes and patterns that emerge as they skip count!
Skip Count Lacing Plates: Or look at patterns and combine fine motor skills by creating these lacing plates.
Combine Skip Counting & Money: This is a great way to not only practice skip counting but also help kids learn to add change.
Popsicle Stick Skip Count Game: This is easy to set up and a fun way for kids to practice!
Skip Count with LEGO Bricks: This provides a really great visual and can be used to count by any number.
Or try this LEGO Brick Skip Counting Model from Royal Baloo.
Visual Models for Counting by 2, 5 and 10: I love these hands on and visual representations of skip counting.
Printable Resources & Games:
While I love all the creative hands on ideas and visuals, sometimes, you just want something a little less time and labor intensive. These printable resources are still fun for kids, but require less prep and attention from you.
These are great to pull out after you’ve introduced and modeled skip counting for your kids and they need some additional, independent practice.
Want tons of fun and low-prep ideas in one handy download? Grab my new Skip Counting Resource Collection with more than 90 pages of games and puzzles!
Valentine’s Day Themed Puzzles: This set of puzzles is a fun challenge for kids, and can be a cute project to take home if they glue them onto construction paper.
Transportation Themed Puzzles: If you’re looking for a different theme, these puzzles are similar, but with fun transportation pictures.
Printable Games: This set of printable games covers skip counting from 2-15 and includes a huge variety of ideas.
Skip Counting Mazes: These mazes are a super low prep way for kids to practice, and also includes skip counting from 2-15.
Cut & Paste Pages: These low prep pages help kids find the missing numbers as they skip count.
Count by 2, 5 and 10 Resource Pack: This huge printable set includes lots of different games and practice pages to count by 2’s, 5’s and 10’s.
Printable Skip Counting Game: This simple printable board game is an easy way to practice skip counting.
Lastly, here is a set of skip counting charts to hang in your home or classroom. This provides a handy visual reference for kids who are still learning and practicing.
Skip Counting Picture Books:
You know that I love teaching math with children’s literature, so I wanted to also include some of my favorite books that can help teach or practice this skill with your kids!
How Many Feet in the Bed? by Diane Hamm
Two of Everything by Lily Hong
Count on Pablo by Barbara deRubertis
One is a Snail, Ten is a Crab by April Sayre
What Comes in 2’s, 3’s and 4’s? by Suzanne Aker
Billions of Bricks by Kurt Cyrus
And that is my HUGE list of ideas and resources for kids! I hope this gives you lots of ideas to choose from, or inspires you to create something of your own. 🙂
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