Parents and early childhood educators can use skip counting strategies to speed up math learning in young children. The steps below can also serve as a fun math game! Please note that before using the following strategies, a child must be age and brain ready. This means a child must be able to count to 10 using one-to-one correspondence.
Step 1: Teach verbal counting by 2’s to 8. (In some cases, a child may learn to count by 2’s to 10.) Teachers also call this skip counting because a child is skipping all the numbers that are not counted by 2’s, for example 1, 3, 5, and 7. It is sometimes helpful to have a number line to refer to as a child counts.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
One way to learn and remember to count by two’s is to use a simple two –line chant that goes along with number line counting. It might go like this:
“2 – 4 – 6 – 8,
Counting by two’s is really great!’
Or to count to 10:
“2 – 4 – 6 – 8 – 10,
Count by two’s again and again.”
This chant should be repeated several times until a child can recall it perfectly from memory.
Step 2: Collect a total of eight similar objects (e.g. poker chips, quarters, or KENS Math foamies). Begin with a total of four objects keeping the remaining objects out of sight. Place the four objects in two groups.
Explain that one way you could tell how many object you have is by counting each one. Demonstrate this counting strategy by counting each object one at a time. Then ask, “Would you like to learn a faster way to count?” After the child replies, “yes” you say, “we can count faster when we count by two’s. To help us do this, we will use our little song, “2, 4, 6, 8…….” Now watch me as I show how to count by two’s.” This time touch or move each set of two as you count to four saying, “Two, Four! There are four apples. Now let’s see if you can do it the same way I did.” Students may hesitate because this is a different way of counting. With repeated modeling and practice nearly all students can master this approach.
Depending on your child’s interest level and confidence in this method, you may next introduce 6 objects. Proceed the same way by first modeling the strategy and then allowing the child to practice. With time and practice over a couple of days, children may advance to 8 objects.
Step 3: After a child has developed confidence in this strategy, he or she may be ready for a tougher challenge. For step 3, place six objects randomly placed (not in groups of two) in front of you. Say, “We are going to count by two’s again. This time, we will grab 2 objects each time we count.” Then demonstrate by taking first 2 objects and saying, “Two!” and then grabbing two more saying “Four!” Repeat until you reach “Six”. Next ask your child to attempt to do the same thing on his or her own. If needed, you may repeat the little song and repeat modeling. This step will take a little longer to master than step 3. With practice, you may increase the number of objects to eight always keeping an even number of objects.
Step 4: Over time and with practice, a child may be ready to take the final step, which is counting by two’s with an odd number of objects. To be ready for this challenge, a child must be able to either recall what number comes next after 2, 4, 6 and 8. To complete this final step, first present 5 objects. Model counting by two’s and when reaching 4 say aloud, “I have four and one more. I know one more than four is five. So I know that there are five objects!” Repeat with practice after success the numbers 7 and 9 (It is important to note that not all preschool children are ready to master this last step).
You can download the KENS Math Skip & Count Worksheet today and start having fun!