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Home » Blog » Math » 1st & 2nd Grade Math Skills » Teaching Skip Counting in 1st Grade vs 2nd Grade

Teaching Skip Counting in 1st Grade vs 2nd Grade

1st & 2nd Grade Math Skills, Addition, Multiplication, Number Sense, Operations, Place Value

Written by: Katie Palmer

As a primary grade teacher, do you know which skip counting strategies work best at your grade level? Or, are you looking to differentiate your teaching strategies to meet all your learners where they're at? Let's delve into the wide array of teaching strategies and student activities that can be used to help young learners master this skill.

Why Teach Skip Counting?

Before we dig into the strategies, you might be wondering why even spend time on this skill?
Teaching skip counting in the primary grades is like giving kids a secret code to unlock all sorts of math skills. When they learn to skip count, they're not just counting by ones; they're jumping ahead in numbers and noticing patterns. (And building the base for multiplication fluency.) Plus, it makes counting groups of things way faster and easier. So, by mastering this skill early on, kids build a strong math foundation that'll help them tackle all sorts of math skills later on.

a color by number worksheet focusing on skip counting

Now, what does practicing this skill look like in first grade versus second grade? Let’s dig in

1st Grade Skip Counting Strategies

In first grade, many students are just getting a handle of number sense. When it is time to teach skip counting to this level, visuals are the key! We are talking anchor charts, digital displays and hands on practice! Let's dig into ways to teach skip counting to all types of learners.

1. Start with the Basics

Start with counting by ones and tens, then moving on to 2s and 5s. Repetition is key! I like to use songs and chants to make practicing the skill more engaging. Here are my favorite videos to use.

Or, check out our skill focused song written by Brandon, a member of Team Lucky Little Learners!

There are a few different visual tools that will be useful when teaching this skill.

2. 120 chart

A 120 chart is a great visual to build number sense. (We prefer a 120 chart over a 100s chart, as students can see the counting pattern extended beyond 100.) Use this chart for all of your skip counting adventures. Students having their own copy of the chart is beneficial, as well. When students are ready, have them work with a partner to construct a 120 chart with number cards.

a student putting together skip counting patterns with number cards

After their chart is built, partners should take turns counting by 10s. Flipping the cards over when they use them. This will paint a clear picture of the numbers used when skip counting by 10s. When it is time to move on to 2s and 5s, this strategy can be used again!

3. Groups of Ten

Practice making groups of ten using connecting cubes or ten frames. Ten frames provide a great visual of this! During a whole group lesson, model adding items to tens frames. (Or project tens frames and add marker dots or digital manipulatives.) For a hands-on approach, provide students with their own ten frames or connecting cubes to make groups of ten. Practice counting the groups of ten connecting cubes (to 120).

students using manipulatives on ten frames to practice addition

4. Extend Patterns

When your class is comfortable skip counting, it is time for them to practice extending counting patterns. This exercise clearly demonstrates their understanding of skip counting patterns!

students working on skip counting using a grocery story themed worksheet

2 Ways to Get 1st Grade Skip Counting Resources

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toothy task kits

Or... Purchase the bundle in our shop.

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2nd Grade Skip Counting Strategies

If you are a second grade teacher, or a 1st grade teacher who is wanting to extend the learning of some of your high flyers, here are some ideas.

1. Review, Review, Review!

In second grade, counting by 1s, 2s, 5s and 10s is (hopefully) a review and extend skill. Most math curricula extend counting patterns well past 120. Students should practice skip counting by 10s starting from 358, for example.

a student putting together a skip counting puzzle

Before diving into the big numbers, spend a bit of time in the beginning of the year review counting patterns, starting with 10s, 5s and 2s to 120.

2. Number Lines

a community themed math center focusing on using number lines

3. Play Games

A great way to cement learning is to practice the skills through game play. Not only do partner games provide brain breaks, they provide skill review and work on partner cooperation skills.

a student completing a community themed math center focusing on number lines

2 Ways to Get 2nd Grade Skip Counting Resources

Join All Access to download everything we've ever made.

toothy task kits

Or... Purchase the bundle in our shop.

toothy task kits

Skip Counting Resources

Did you know we have skip counting resources for 1st and 2nd grade, including visuals, hands on games and independent practice activities? Check out our Lucky to Learn Math curricula, for 1st & 2nd grade!

2 Ways to Get 1st Grade Skip Counting Resources

Join All Access to download everything we've ever made.

toothy task kits

Or... Purchase the bundle in our shop.

toothy task kits

2 Ways to Get 2nd Grade Skip Counting Resources

Join All Access to download everything we've ever made.

toothy task kits

Or... Purchase the bundle in our shop.

toothy task kits

How do you practice skip counting? Let us know your ideas in the comments!

Happy teaching!

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