April 27, 2005

Skip Counting with paint and Shoes

Today we had a great lesson that combined art and math. Out came the paint and big pieces of paper. Each child selected a color and dipped their hand in the paint then made three set of handprints on their sheet. Ciaran choose green of course, Rhiannon purple and Sirah orange. Sirah's handprints melded together and soon she was simply fingerpainting. I finished the handprints with four sets of my own and let her just paint away. While those were drying the kids each received a new piece of paper to make their own art project on.

Rhiannon painted a picture of grandma and the grandkids on a picnic complete with rainbow and a bright sun. Ciaran painted what I personally think is his finest piece of art to date. It was more abstract but he could tell you exactly what each part was. The overall theme was grandpa and him riding boats to see a huge frog of course. It was precious and it will be hard to let this one go as he wants to give it to his grandparents.

When the painting was done and put away Ciaran and grandpa headed downstairs to practice frogball - baseball with a frog beachball that is relatively safe to play indoors. I am shy to admit that he taught Ciaran when you hit the ball well - over the futon it is a Yankee homerun and when you miss it was a Twins bad hit. Can you guess where grandpa is from?

Sirah, Rhiannon and I sat on the kitchen floor with the handprint paintings spread out before us. We had talked about skip counting. We had a moment of I won't/can't do this drama from which we quickly recovered and moved back into the lesson. We began by reciting our counting by 5 song which she knows by rote memorization. After singing it a few times I started showing her that by pointing to a single set of five with each number she sang she was actually counting the items by 5's. This was the first time she actual did number/object correspondence for skip counting. Up until now she just knew the song. After doing this three times the light bulb went off and she started to get excited.

I showed her how if we counted each finger individually it added up to 30 and if we counted each hand as a set of five fingers it also added up to 30 but much quicker. She liked this and started getting excited and began counting all the handprints. Then she moved to counting all our fingers and toes as we were sitting there, Sirah included. Then she put it together counting our fingers and the fingers on the paintings. She was really enjoying it and having fun with it.

Then I showed her how if we looked at each set of hands (left and right) each set had 10 fingers and if we counted by 10's it all added up to be the same again but was even faster. She also knew her counting by 10's song by rote memorization so this was easy for her to do. She played with this for awhile and then confident she understood what skip counting really was and how to use it and how to do it proficiently we moved into the living room.

In our living room were 10 pairs of shoes lined up. Prior to painting I asked Rhiannon to line them up. She seemed a bit unsure at first as I was asking her to clutter our living room floor with shoes that typically are not allowed on our carpet but she did so and made a nice long line of 10 different sets of shoes. I suppose you know where this is going.

We learned to count by 2's with our shoes. This was more challenging for Rhia as she did not have a prior knowledge of counting by 2's already. This was new to her. She was at first unsure she could do it. I reminded her she had just done 5's and 10's and those were harder and she could do them up to 100 and all she needed to do 2's to was 20. She agreed.

We began with me pointing to each set and counting out loud by two's. I let her count the shoes individually and she got to 20 easily. We said it over and over again together 2-10 until she seemed confident and comfortable with that. Then she practiced on her own for awhile. Learning the number/item correspondence as she was memorizing counting the numbers. The numbers 2-10 seemed to come easily but 12-20 was more challenging for her. We persisted and she was eventually able to master it, though 16 kept giving her trouble for some reason. The promise of a piece of candy (leftover Easter bunny - aren't I terrible that they still have not finished their easter candy) and she was able to do the exercise of counting shoe's by twos without mistake three times in a row. She enjoyed her candy and cleaned the shoes while I washed out the paint items and then enjoyed the rest of the day with her grandparents.

It was a great lesson. Fun, easy, different and interesting. I highly recommend it when you are teaching skip counting. I think it helped quite a bit that she had the song memorized already. We simply would sing it to her and she memorized it after awhile. This was one of those times when she was smiling and really enjoying herself.

I know she really understood it as well. Several times throughout the day she would say look mom I can count to 20 by twos and then do it right. At dinner she asked everyone to hold up their hands, grandparents included, and counted all our fingers by 5's to show us what she learned today. It was an enjoyable moment and a good lesson.



  1. Thank you! I now have our math lesson for the day. We are in the division section of miquon red, and we're taking a break for about a month of hands on math-no workbooks allowed. I'll let you know how it goes with Andrew.

  2. I really liked the idea of handprints and counting by fives. Very good!

    We've done counting by twos by making legomen sit in twos, and with abacus beads too. ANd my daughter likes Franklin books so I mentioned to her how Franklin can count by twos...

  3. arianne dalangin8:10 AM

    you've given me idea on how to teach skip counting because tomorrow i will be presenting it to the kids in our school. thank you so much! it is such a big help :)