Monday, November 18, 2013


After spending time counting and labeling both the long and short bead chains for something like five years now it amazes me that the boys still choose that work several times each month.  They are excellent at counting by 2's, 4's, 5's, and 10's both forwards and backwards.  They aren't half-bad at 3's either.  The 6's, 7's, 8's, and 9's on the other hand could use some work.

skip counting = multiplication facts

This is serious business!

However, after five years or so of counting chains there is no way they are going to choose counting the chains often enough to finish memorizing the sequences. There are many multiplications works that will reinforce the multiplication facts in different ways.  I still think they can benefit from skip counting work.   I wouldn't have wanted to displace the bead chain work with a bunch of abstract paper works if the boys were in primary. However, they are in elementary and since they have had plenty of sensorial experience with the beautiful bead chains I put together quite a few activities they can do alongside or instead of the bead chains.

Skip counting is on their weekly work plan.  I wrote a list on a card of all the different ways they can do this work and put it on the shelf for their reference.  They can choose any number of these works at a time.  The boys seem to think it is a grand idea to pick a number and then do the WHOLE LIST.  After I got all of the work on the shelves I wanted to show them how to use them and it was easiest to do this with a number they were super comfortable with.  They chose fives and so all my pictures are of the work for fives.  However, Me Too in particular is doing work off of the list every morning before everyone else is awake and I've noticed he has been preferring to work on 6's and 7's.  Go Me Too!

They can, of course, still choose and label either the short or long bead chain or both!  After the label's are on they practice reciting the labels forwards and backwards.  Me Too peeks a lot, Kal-El is pretty good about trying to do it without looking.

Our 100 board is still in our school room for activities like this!  The boys practice skip counting a number by removing the appropriate tiles (in the case above, every fifth tile) and placing them in a column.  They are continually surprised by the different patterns this makes on the board.  They practice reading the column of numbers forwards and backwards.   I had noticed that the boys wouldn't choose this work because they didn't want to take all the time to put the tiles on the board first.  Putting the tiles on the board is not something they need to practice any longer.  I changed the way we store our board now so that the tiles are already in it and they can easily start the skip counting.

The boys can do the same activity with bingo markers and a printable 100 board. I printed out 20 of them and they are on the shelf.  You can get them online many places (mine is from Empowering Little Learners) and if you purchased the Karen Tyler albums there is also one in your math support files folder.  

The Montessori Print Shop sells worksheets for the square chains (short chains). The boys enjoyed coloring and labeling them.  I liked the empty tags marked along the chain and appreciated the multiplication at the end with a tag for the product.

I found a similar printable for the various cubing chains in an Elementary Montessori Math album (Mid-America).  All of the printable works I made are stored in their own manila file folder with an example stapled to the front of the folder like this.

The boys can also create number grids for the square of each number on a completely blank hundred chart (or any graph paper).  I'm printed mine from Mathwire.

Their favorite new work are these free skip counting mazes from Confessions of a Homeschooler.  She offers two sets and I printed several copies of both sets.  The boys love to do this with the bingo daubers but I've noticed Me Too has done several pages in crayon because the paints aren't available unless I'm AWAKE.

If none of these activities strike their fancy, there is always a game of Speed!

And finally, we have skip counting SONGS.  We frequently listen to and watch the Schoolhouse Rock songs and videos.  We love them, but some of them have a lot going on other than the skip counting.  I wanted something more "to the point" but I couldn't decide whether to get the skip counting songs from Math U See or from Classical Conversations.  I couldn't find a way to hear them both and decide based on quality or "catchiness."  What wound up happening was that the CC songs were a LOT easier to acquire because I was able to buy a foundations app for each cycle for my iPad through iTunes.  The app was a lot less expensive than buying the Classical Conversations Foundations CDs.   And, unlike the Math-U-See, the CC offered tunes for memorizing history and other subjects.

Has anyone listened to both the Math-U-See  AND the Classical Conversations skip counting songs?  Any preferences?


  1. We have the Math u See Skip counting songs. I found them pretty dull. Kids singing around a camp fire with a guitar, kind of music. My boys were not impressed. Definitely did not keep their attention. (and we are not picky here, when it comes to music)

    1. Hmm. The Classical Conversations song seem to fit the same description...minus the guitar.

  2. I love these ideas! :) I have got to get some paint daubers - my kiddos would love them, I know - although I love the inclusion that you have the be *awake* for them to get used!

    1. Yup. After taking them out I consciously put them up in a high cabinet so I didn't wake up to a polka dot house.

  3. This is on my list of things to research, thanks for giving me a head-start. S isn't there yet, (I just looked up and she is dipping puffed cheesy corn in butter??? yuck.) Anyway, T is...we've just been doing it in-the-head way, because yes, he got a lot of he sensorial in Primary. Funny that you should mention hundred board, T did a lot of this as he was skip counting, or after he had finished, he'd color in a photocopied hundred board, and yes, you could see all the different patterns on the board. T is pretty keen to patterns, so for him, he'll forgo the counting, concentrating, and memorizing, and just go, oh, this tile is next in the line-up, here is where to start the pattern, it must go here. If I come up with anything different than your wonderful list here, I'll be sure to post about it!

    1. mmmmm....butter. Nice. You can go on the computer when your kids have cheesy corn? Brave.

      That's super interesting about the T and the patterns. I'm hoping it has a similar effect on one or both of my kids.

      If you think of anything to add, please post it!

    2. Great ideas! Love the use of the bingo markers! - i have been using the see through bingo chips so I can re-use the sheets multiple times.