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Reinforce Skip Counting: 2nd in Our Math Teaching Tips Series

Developing number sense is an important part of the math curriculum in the primary grades. It builds a foundation for later math concepts and understandings. One important skill in developing number sense is skip counting.

Skip counting is a skill that can be reinforced throughout the day without any preparation. It works well with those few minutes before you leave for lunch or after everyone is ready to go home, but the dismissal bell still hasn’t rung yet.

  • Conduct a class count-on. First state the rule. For example, “Count by twos.” After you’ve done this multiple times have a student be the leader who makes up the rule. Point to a student and have them start by saying “Two”.  The next student says, “Four.” This continues until everyone has said a number or you reach a specific endpoint. Try giving a specific endpoint and have the students decide before the count off if they will land on that number. For example, the rule is count by 3s and the endpoint is 63, ask the class if they can end exactly on 63? Make the count off  harder by starting with a random number like 54. As students get more proficient choose start points that will make them cross landmarks like 100, 200, 1000, etc.
  • Use money as a tool to count by 5s, 10s, and 25. Shake a jar full of nickels, dimes, or quarters. Ask the class to estimate the value. Then tell them exactly how many coins are in the jar. How can they figure out the answer using their skip counting skills?
  • Combine problem solving with mental math. Tell the class that there are eight bikes parked in front of the school, and ask how many bike wheels are there all together.
  • Starting math out right. For your math starter each morning have the class chant together and count by 2’s, 5’s, and 10’s up to 100. Every day have a new student pick what the class will count by that day. As your students get proficient have them count beyond 100 or have choose one student to choose the “count by” number and another choose the starting number. Your second and third grade students will benefit by counting by other numbers as well, getting them ready for multiplication.
  • Snack time! Have students help count out how much snack is needed for the class or a small group. If everyone gets 4 crackers, how many crackers will be needed for the whole class? Use smaller snacks like raisins to count by bigger numbers, like 10.

In this way you can take advantage of every teachable moment and provide practice with the skill of skip counting!

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