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I remember a first grade student of mine who could count by tens just like her classmates. But if I gave her a pile of counters and asked her to group them and count by 10’s, she would take three little counters and count as she moved each piece: “10, 20, 30.” I looked at her tiny pile of three and asked, “How many do you have?” “Thirty,” was her reply.
We did a lot of this kind of thing until it finally clicked with her that items had to be in groups before she could skip count.
I remembered that as I planned a way to teach skip counting to my Four.
We took out our supply of foam heart stickers. Because everything is more fun with stickers. It’s also a sure way that I will get all of my kids to abandon their toys in the playroom and join me for some math.
I’d prepared 10 yellow squares. The kids worked to stick 10 foam hearts to each square.
My Two (above) can count to 10, but he can’t count items to 10. Still, he enjoyed putting the stickers on the squares, and I counted each of his sets with him as he completed them. All the kids remembered to leave a little space at the bottom of each square for us to write in.
When we had 10 squares with 10 stickers each, my Four and Five took turns writing a number on each card.
“How many stickers do we have on our first card?”
“Right. So let’s write a 10 on this one. Now look… I have TWO cards, and they each have ten stickers. Let’s count to see how many stickers we have now. Since we have 20 stickers, we’re going to write 20 on the second card. Here’s another card. If we have 10 more stickers, how many do we have in all?”
My Five, who has very good number sense, led the way. My Four was taking it all in.
After we’d labeled each card and read through them a couple of times, I asked my Four for each number by turn. This was good practice for him in recognizing these larger numbers.
My Five taped each set of hearts to our kitchen window.
Having this display close to our dinner table provides a lot of opportunity for review.
“How many 10’s does it take to make 100?”
“How many hearts do we have if we have 3 sets of 10?”
“Show Daddy how you count to 100 by 10’s!”
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