Skip Counting & Multiplication

7 tips for skip counting

It is very important for students to understand the meaning behind multiplication. It is also important for them to master multiplication facts so that they may apply them to other types of math. They need to know the multiples of numbers to simplify fractions, solve large division problems, see patterns,  understand algebra, and so much more.
Being fluent with Math is similar to being fluent in Reading. If a student knows his sight words and only has to sound out a few unfamiliar words he is able to read a paragraph or story fluently, and comprehend it. However, if he has to sound out all of the words as he reads, the paragraph or passage will take a long time and fluency will be weaker and comprehension compromised.

One thing that I have noticed year after year is that most students entering 3rd grade knowing how to skip count by 2, 5, and 10. And guess what? They learn the multiplication facts for 2, 5, and 10 so much more easily than the other number groups.


Repetition and exposure. They have been skip counting 2, 5, and 10 for years! Now, we don’t have years to get them fluent in the other facts, so what do we do? I like to review skip counting by 2, 5, 10 and relate them to multiplication, and multiples and them I start teaching songs and chants for the 3 to 4 and 6 to 9 number sets.


1. I like to start by using manipulatives

Color tiles, toys, candy, markers … students lay out the objects in piles, stacks, or arrays and practice skip counting. Make arrays on paper with stickers and label with markers.


2. Move into t-charts (tables):

I teach my students how to make tables for each set of numbers. Dots or tallies help students to “add on” to complete the table if needed.

3. Songs.

I love the Marilyn Willoughby CD for skip counting songs, but there are a lot more out there. Google or check You Tube. Some teachers like to have their students make up rhymes or songs.

I found this recently on Youtube:

4. Make posters, anchor charts, and other visuals.

You can make charts or posters ahead of time and show the class as you practice or make them with the students as they learn.  Letting students make posters and anchor charts is great too!

5. Get moving!

For kinesthetic learners you can put the numbers on the floor and have them hop around while they skip count, or you can have them make up a dance for each skip counting group. Take it outside and use sidewalk chalk to make skip count hopscotch.

6. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Children don’t learn how to walk after one time, they don’t learn how to talk or write their name after one time! Learning requires repetition to make those brain connections!

7. Games:

I am a firm believer in games for facilitating learning!  For a quick whole class game, split students into two groups and have each group sit in a circle.  Have the groups take turns going around their circle skip counting by a said number. The group that gets the farthest skip counting gets a point. Play a few rounds. For a table game, have numbers written on index cards and have table teams race to put them in order.


Pencil and paper practice can be  helpful too!

Use handouts with missing numbers, charts or mazes as warm-ups, homework, exit tickets, etc… click the picture below to see my skip counting packet:


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