Begin in younger grades by skip counting by 2, 5, and 10. Here’s a great video that shows how counting by fives and tens supports the development of place value concepts.

Next, begin to include related numbers like four (twice 2) and look at relationships between the two sequences.

Go around the room and ask students to predict what number the 4th person, 7th person, 9th person, etc. will say when it is his or her turn.

Ask questions like “If we were skip counting by 3’s and I said 18, what number would you say next?”

Begin with a number that is not in the usual skip counting sequence; for example, skip count by 4’s beginning with 13. Record the numbers on the board and notice any patterns that arise.

In her book Number Sense Routines: Building Numerical Literacy Every Day in Grades K-3, Jessica Shumway offers the following ideas for skip-counting routines:

Count Around the Circle: Choose a counting sequence, for example counting by tens starting at 32, and go around the circle as each person says a number.  Older students can count by hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, fractional and decimal numbers, starting at various numbers. To facilitate understanding of patterns, write numbers on the board as students say them.

Choral Counting: The class counts aloud a number sequence all together. Use a number grid or a number line as students are counting to help students see and use the number patterns. Ask questions like “What do you notice about this pattern?” to spark higher level thinking and discussion.

Start and Stop Counting: The class counts a number sequence all together, with a starting number and a stopping number. For example, have the class count by tens, starting with 26 and ending with 176. Ask questions to facilitate discussions about patterns, such as, “If we start with 25 and count by 5, what numbers could we stop at?” To highlight the distance between two numbers and guide a discussion about difference, use questions like, “If we count by twos starting with 224 and stopping at 346, will it take a long time or not much time? How do you know?”

Click here to preview Shumway’s book online.

Click here for more activities with skip counting.

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