Teaching Your Child Counting by 5s

Count by 5 for Fun

"Give me Five" poster. Image: Amanda Morin

Counting by fives can be a hard concept for kids to learn. Luckily, there are a number of things in the world that comes in fives. That makes it a little easier to teach than other ways of skip counting. Here are five ways to teach your child to count by fives.

Talk about what comes in groups of five.

Your child has five fingers on each hand and five toes on each foot, but those aren’t the only things that come in fives.

 Challenge your child to think about all the things he knows that come in groups of fives.

Need a hint? There are five senses, five major food groups, five players from each team on a basketball court, five rings of the Olympics, five points on a star, and (in Chinese, Japanese, Buddhist, Greek, Babylonian and alchemy).

Talk about what counting by 5 means.

Counting by fives is a quick way of adding five to the previous number. When your child first leans to count by fives, he’ll usually start with the number 5 and count up to 100. (For example: 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45...100).

But that doesn’t mean counting by fives always has to start with the number five. In fact, if your child always starts with the number five, he’s not counting by five, he’s reciting the multiples of five.

Help your child learn to count by fives by starting with the number 1. He’ll have to learn to add five to each number to count by 5’s.

(For example 1, 6, 11, 16, 21...)

Learn some counting by fives songs.

There are some great songs, both classic and contemporary, that can help you teach your child to count by fives. If you’re a Peter, Paul and Mary fan, you may already know the song “It’s Raining,” which combines a number of different classic nursery rhymes and childhood chants, including a hide-and-seek game that counts by fives.

(There’s also a children’s book, It’s Raining, It’s Pouring based on the song.)

There are also a few other songs about counting by 5’s, including the Counting By Fives Song by Have Fun Teaching  (view it on YouTube) and the classic School House Rock - Counting by Fives song (view it on YouTube).

Make a “Give Me Five” poster.

It is an easy way to help your child learn to count by by fives and can also help improve fine motor skills. Let him loose with a big piece of posterboard and some finger paint or, if you’d rather not have the mess, a box of markers. Have him print or trace his hands ten times on the paper. When it dries, help write the numbers--by fives--on each hand.

Make a “count by fives” hopscotch.

It is another easy way to reinforce the idea of counting by 5’s, and it can help to improve gross motor skills. Draw a hopscotch on the sidewalk or make an indoor version with painter’s tape. 

Play the game by traditional Hopscotch rules, but instead of writing the numbers 1 through 10, have your child write start with a number (it could be any number) and then fill in the rest of the boxes by counting by fives.