Teaching Skip Counting

Skip counting was one of the concepts we covered at the beginning of the year in second grade.  Before the Common Core was in place, we used the Michigan standards (Grade Level Content Expectations.)  Based on these, we needed to have second graders counting by 2, 5, 10, 3 and 4.  Yes, you read that right 3 and 4.  As a teacher, I had a hard time wrapping my head around skip counting by 3s and 4s.  As an adult in the real world, I could never figure out why you would skip count by these numbers and I usually could only do it by going through the multiplication facts in my head.  Now, with the Common Core in place, second graders are expected to skip count by 5s, 10s and 100s.  That’s a little more relevant!!

I used picture books to help teach the concept.  These are two that I found helpful.  Count by Fives by Jerry Pallotta has a construction theme and counts by one until it gets to ten and then it counts by five until it gets to one hundred.  There are good visuals on each page that allow the students to count along.

Arctic Fives Arrive by Elinor J. Pinczes is another book that practices skip counting by fives.  This story is about arctic animals coming to an iceberg in groups of five to watch the Northern Lights.  This book only counts up to thirty but all the animals are in the pictures, so students could count along with the book.

Beyond reading picture books, we would use the hundreds chart to help us count.  We would circle the numbers they would say when counting (by 2s, 5s, etc) and then go through and practice counting the numbers.  Every day during calendar we would pick a way to skip count and practice up to 100 and sometimes 200.

We would play round robin type games where we would go around the room and each student would say what would come next depending on what number we were skip counting by.  This could cause anxiety for students who were struggling with this concept so we had the hundreds charts posted to help scaffold for those students. 

Another game we would play was shapes in a minute.  We would pick a shape and they would draw as many as they could in a minute.  Then they would circle the shapes in groups based on what number we were counting by and practice skip counting to find out how many total shapes they drew.  I would usually adjust the shape we used depending on what we were counting by and the skill level of the children.  For example, if they were really good at skip counting by 2s, I might have them draw circles – something they could draw fast so the total number would be high.  If they were struggling with counting by 5s, for example, I would use stars or something that was harder for them to draw, resulting in a lower total number of shapes to count. 

For our higher students who easily mastered the concept of skip counting, we would connect it to repeated addition and then multiplication.  This gave them a little more of challenge and removed the visuals that the other students used to help them count.

I created a counting and skip counting activity for second graders using task cards.  These could be used as a preassessment, an assessment, a math center, math journal entries, and much much more. It uses numbers up to 1,000 and students practice counting and skip counting by 1s, 5s, 10s, and 100s.

What other strategies or activities do you use to teach skip counting to your students?

Happy Teaching,



  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Sara,

    I love your game ideas, particularly the "shapes in a minute", I'll have to try that out!

    I came across this on Pintrest tonight and it reminded me of your post:



  3. I love that idea. I didn't have tiles in my classroom but that would have been cool to set up in the hallway or even on the carpet. I'll have to keep it in mind for when my little one is ready for this sort of activity because we have lots of tile in the kitchen and hallway we could use. Love that they are up and moving. Thanks for sharing!

  4. We used a lot of songs to learn skip counting. There are some catchy ones on YouTube and then we counted by 3's while singing Jingle Bells tune. They loved connecting to multiplication at the end of the year.

  5. I like the idea of songs. It helps get it "stuck" in their heads. I didn't use YouTube a lot - our district had that and just about every other site blocked but that would have been great to get from home and take in for them to listen to.


Your comments are always appreciated! Thank you!!