Counting by 2s, 5s, and 10s may not sound like much fun. But using “skip counting” with real objects you find or make at home is a different story...it can be hours of entertainment. Because patterns are a foundation of mathematical reasoning, first graders need to spend lots of time identifying and practicing them. Here's a hands-on activity to touch and move real stuff while building abstract reasoning…paint, shoes, and coins in hand!
What You Need:
- Pairs of shoes
- Washable paint (tempera or acrylic)
- Paper or plastic plate
- Paper (white, newspaper, or brown wrapping paper)
- 50+ pennies
- Table or any flat surface
What You Do:
- Have your child gather as many pairs of shoes from the household as he can. Ask him to line them up in pairs on the floor. With your child, count by 2s to find the total number of shoes. Then count each shoe again, counting by 1s. Ask your child if it’s quicker and easier to count by 2s or to count by 1s. Finish by counting again by 2s—the more practice the better. Roll out some paper and trace the shoes in pairs. Let your child color the pairs.
- Pour some paint in a sturdy paper or plastic plate. If it's too thick, don't hesitate to add some water to dilute it. Have your child put her hands, palms down, in the paint and make handprints on a sheet of paper. Ask her to press down all four of her fingers and her thumb. In this part of the activity, your child is making groups of five. Have her make as many handprints as she wants (at least 10). Count by 5s to find the total number of fingers and thumbs shown.
- Place a group of pennies on the table. Ask your child if it's faster to count the pennies by 1s, 2s, 5s, or 10s. Have him place the pennies in stacks of 10. Help him count the pennies by 10s to find the total number. Simple? Yes. But a great introduction to skip counting, an important first grade skill. So keep the paint and pennies handy. And look for everyday excuses to count in groups!
Sally is an experienced educator, with over 14 years of teaching experience. In addition to teaching, she has also created educational materials, including ancillary, textbook, and test items, for Grades K-8 for major educational publishers.