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Skip-Counting…It Ain’t Just 2s, 5s, and 10s!

Skip-counting is a skill that is often thought of as an activity for students in lower grades. It showsย up in the CCSSM in a couple of places:

K.CC.1–Count to 100 by ones and by tens

2.NBT.2–Count within 1000; skip-count by 5s, 10s, and 100s

And that’s basically it. As far as I can tell, there’s not even a standard for skip-counting by 2s anymore. Pity, really, because skip counting is such a powerful way to see the patterns and connections in math. I was thinking today about all the different ways you could skip count, and how doing so could really build conceptual understanding. Take, for instance, fractions. Skip-counting is perfect for a little game called Sparkle. Check out this blog post for more information. So look at this fractions version of Sparkle. You can play with two different sets of rules–using improper fractions or mixed numbers. Either way, the student who says a whole number, or a fraction that represents a whole number, sits down. You can have a stopping point, if you’d like. For example, when you reach 3 or 5, you start over. That tends to make the game go faster and reinforces the fractions students are repeating over and over.

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Now think about doing this same activity the next day skip-counting by eighths. A lot more students will count between those who sit down. What a great discussion! And then how about by decimals?

I thought of some other ways to use skip-counting to reinforce patterns and make connections:

  • Skip count by even numbers (2, 4, 6, 8, 10, etc.); try starting at numbers other than 2
  • Skip count by odd numbers (1, 3, 5, 7, 9, etc.); again, start at numbers other than 1
  • Skip count by whole hours (8:00, 9:00, 10:00, etc.)
  • Skip count by half hours (8:00. 8:30, 9:00, etc.) or quarter hours (8:00, 8:15, 8:30, etc.)
  • Skip count by quarters (25s) (25, 50, 75, etc.), sit down on dollars
  • Skip count by quarts, sit down on gallons (1 qt, 2 qt, 3qt, 1 gal, etc.)
  • Skip count by multiples of any number, sit down on the x12 fact (3, 6, 9, etc., sit down on 36)
  • Skip count by multiples of 10 (30, 60, 90, etc.)
I’d love to hear your thoughts and if you have any other suggestions for skip counting!


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  1. I have played Sparkle with my class for years and they love it. I get them to jump as high as they can when it’s their turn. I hadn’t thought of doing it with fractions or times. What a great idea!

  2. My new favorite tool for practicing all kinds of counting is called the Super Sequencer. It is a free teacher tool available online. You can use it for counting forward and backwards by any number you wish including fractions/decimals. I wrote a blog post about it yesterday!

    The Math Maniac

  3. I have been playing Sparkle with skip counting in my first grade classroom since I saw it in your previous blog post. I change it up every day. Sometimes we practice counting backwards and then skip counting backwards. I have noticed a big gain in students who struggled with number patterns, counting on, and counting back. When I had third graders we often skip counted by different numbers to start laying foundation for multiplication.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing, Sara! As you point out, the great thing about this routine is it’s flexibility. That, and the fact that it’s super engaging!

  4. Great practice for students and gets them up and out of their seats. Counting using negative integers for middle school students is another idea. Counting in A Circle (Jessica Shumway) is a fun routine, as well.

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