Skip counting is an important skill for the mathematicians sitting in our classrooms! Good news! There are so many more ways to work on skip counting besides chanting!
We know that we have often fallen into the trap of simply ‘chanting’ when it comes time to work on counting. But the truth is, skip counting is such an important skill. It helps students with:
Addition and subtraction strategies
Is the introduction to multiplication and division skills and
Helps students understand and identify number patterns and sequences.
With all that in mind, in our opinion, it is a skill worth investing some time and awesome activities towards!
There are loads of ideas out there for skip counting by 2s, 5s and 10s BUT what about when we get to counting by 6s and 7s? or 8s and 9s?
Here is some inspo which is perfect for skip counting by any number. These ideas can easily be adapted for younger students when counting by 2, 5 and 10 or use with older students to count by more difficult multiples like 7 and 8.
1.Hands on – get ordering
Use pop sticks to create an interactive way to skip count forwards and backwards. These are great for counting by any number and provide a scaffolded tool for students.
Extension: Students order the pop sticks in pairs and then one partner removes a stick or two and the other has to work out which one is missing. This will help establish fluency in noticing and identifying number patterns.
2. Number wheels
Number wheels get students counting in a creative way but are still providing a scaffold if they need it. Again, they can use a counting wheel to count forwards or backwards (remember we want our students to be fluent in both!)
Students could complete this activity and then make their own counting wheels. Here are two different versions of what a counting wheel could look like:
3. Mystery counting
Kids love interactive activities. Hide magnetic numbers or playing cards in coloured rice and ask them to select a number to skip count by. Ask students to record their counting in a notebook or on a mini whiteboard. Super simple but really effective and kids love it.
4. Make it
Use play dough as a fun way to explore and manipulate skip counting. This is also a great introduction to arrays if you are moving onto multiplication. The visual learners in your classroom will really benefit and enjoy this activity.
Additionally, you can use all sorts of everyday items to skip count. This image shows a students create groups of 5 using pop sticks.
5. Skip counting lottery
This is a fun and tactile activity for counting. Don’t be afraid to ask students to count from many different starting points either. Click here to check out how we set up this activity from scratch on TikTok.
Sometimes you don’t need all the bells and whistles! This is a skip counting activity we love because it recycles items already in the classroom, is hands-on and also helps with fine motor skills! This task is easily scaffolded or you can leave it more open ended.
For younger students, we love turning this style of activity into an interactive ‘clothes line’ for our students to practice counting and number sequences.
7. Building blocks
Building blocks can be used in so many ways in maths. You could even ask students to write on the blocks themselves with a whiteboard marker. Find more ways to use blocks in your maths lessons here.
We are huge advocates of games in the classroom to make learning fun and engaging. Games are ideal to have ready for Maths centres, for fast finishers, to enlarge and play a teacher vs. the class game or even send home instead of traditional homework. These games below are simple to set up and easy to play (which is a key factor for us when choosing games for students to play).
9. Counting in pairs
Team counting or ping-pong counting can be a way for students to support each other. For the social learners, this is a wonderful task. It can be verbal as a quick lesson starter or more formal like the image below.
10. Create visual charts
Many students sitting in our classrooms are visual learners. We often see displays on classroom walls that look like this activity, but why not get your students to create their own?!
They are more likely to remember the visual they created themselves. As well, it could be added to a display to create a connection with what is on the wall and what the class is learning or glue in students’ maths books for future reference.
11. Model backwards and forwards
Most students find it more difficult to count backwards (just like they find subtraction and division that little bit trickier). Support your students by providing visuals to help with counting backwards.
12. Class investigation
Once your students have been engaged in counting activities, use your surroundings to create an investigation. We usually have counting anchor charts or displays on our classroom walls – cover a number/s and ask students to work out what is missing. Then use that as a starting point to count forwards or backwards from for the day.
This is a quick way to include some incidental learning throughout the day (as well as get our students to notice and use the helpful things we have displayed on the walls).
Find some ready to print skip counting posters here.
Before we go, let’s quickly touch on differentiation when it comes to skip counting. Differentiation is actually easier than you think.
Here are 5 ways you can differentiate counting for your students:
Students work on skip counting by different numbers
Focus on forwards or backwards
Different starting / ending points
Applying counting in different ways (e.g. number patterns, to answer problems, solve multiplication number sentences etc)
Allow them to choose different tasks to suit their learning preference and style
We hope this post has provided you some fun inspo for working on number sequences, patterns and skip counting in the classroom.