I stumbled across skip counting songs as a way to help my daughter start enjoying math. When my daughter Marta was in the first grade, she was in public school. I was only homeschooling her in our spare time. She kept saying that she hated math, so I kept trying to come up with ways for her to do math in a way that she would enjoy. I did this through songs.
Skip Counting Songs
When I was a girl, I loved School House Rock. For some reason I really loved the song for the 3 times table. Even as an adult I had no trouble recalling that skip counting songs. So, I sang part of it to Marta. At first she ignored me which is a typical first response.
I continued to sing it once per day or every other day, then one day she joined in. She had the numbers all wrong. Then, I realized I needed to slow the song down. I also explained I was skip counting by 3’s. Now, she was interested. She asked me to explain skip counting. I reminded her that when she counted by 2’s, she was skip counting.
I also showed her the School House Rock 3 Times Tables, video, now she really wanted to know more. The thing about this video is it shows a family: daddy, mommy, and baby. She pointing out that this was just like our family. (Actually, Marta has an older half sister who is 19 years older, but she does not live with us). Marta loved the video and really loved the song. She made more efforts on her own to learn the song and now she can easily join in when I start singing the song.
Songs for Two Times Table
A few months after this, I tried to use the School House Rock song for the 2 times table. It was just too complicated for her. So, I made up a song that uses the melody to “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”. She hated that song, and explained she wasn’t a baby any longer. I also tried to use the School House Rock song for the 4 times table, but I ran into the same problem.
Several months went by, and then she discovered a counting song from a PBS show called “Peg Plus Cat”. In the episode “Peg the Bold and Brave Sir Cat”, the main characters must count by 2’s to help someone in need. Marta loves this episode and took it upon herself to learn the song for counting by 2’s all the way up to 20.
Skip Counting Songs: Future Work
She knows how to count by 5’s and 10’s. The only skip counting we are really working on is by 4’s. She doesn’t like my songs, but I’ll try to adapt the skip county by 4’s to song from “Peg Plus Cat”.
So, why do I spend so much time working on skip counting songs. Several months after she learned her skip counting we introduced multiplication. It was so much easier for her to even understand what the multiplication was doing when I could easily recall the skip counting she already knew. Many times in order to jog her memory, I just hum the tune that goes with a particular multiplication problem and she figures out the rest.
Most importantly, I don’t hear “I hate math” any longer. It’s still not something she would voluntarily do. But, every once in a while she looks as if she’s really enjoying the math lesson.