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How To Teach Counting by 5’s

Ways to Help Your Child Count by 5’s

There are so many ways out there to help teach your child to count by 1’s but what are effective ways to teach your child to count by 5’s?  Counting by 5’s is an important skill to learn in order to help gain a better understanding of number sense, patterns, and solving math problems.

I have taught elementary school for many years and have helped plenty of children learn to count by 5’s.  Here are some of the best ways to help your child gain this skill and practice it.

A Hundred Chart

One of the best ways to teach your child to count by 5’s is to use a hundred chart.  A hundred chart, like the one above, allows your child to see all of the numbers at one time, in numerical order.  It is set up in ten rows of ten so that each row starts with 1 in the one’s place and ends with a 0 in the one’s place.  This means the 5 in the one’s place will be right in the middle of the chart. 

Seeing the numbers set up in this way allows your child to see the pattern that counting by 5’s creates. Your child can point to the number on the chart while counting by 5’s.  Help them notice that their finger is moving five numbers each time. With a chart, like the one above, your child can put the numbers in themselves, which makes it more hands-on.

There are many different types of hundred charts.  First off, you can create your own with paper and markers. Something helpful would be to use a different color for the numbers with 5 in the one’s place and numbers with 0 in the one’s place so that it is easy for your child to see the pattern.

Having your child create the chart on their own or with assistance from you is a good way to involve them in their learning.  Also, allowing them to color the count by 5’s pattern on their own can help them make a better connection with the concept.

Another good choice is to use a dry-erase hundred board like the Learning Resources Laminated Hundred Boards.  These boards are reusable so they can be used for other math concepts, and can be written on. 

Math Manipulatives (objects)

Manipulatives is a word that teachers use to describe any type of object that can be manipulated in order to help with math concepts.  Math manipulatives can be used for almost any type of math to provide a hands-on learning experience for a child. 

Having concrete objects to count can be very helpful for children learning how to count.  Any small object you have around the house can be a math manipulative. Dried beans, cotton balls, LEGO, or other small objects are all great choices.  

My favorite math manipulative to use are the Learning Resources Linking Cubes.  This way they can connect the five cubes together to really show concretely that it is a group of 5.  These connecting cubes are great for teaching other types of math as well such as addition and subtraction.

To teach counting by 5’s with math manipulatives, have your child put the objects into groups of 5. Next, have them count up with the objects by 5’s.  If they are not sure what number comes next in the counting pattern, they can count one by one using the objects.

Make it a game by having your child dump out all of the manipulatives or small objects, estimate how many they think there are, and then have them group the manipulatives into groups of five to count them up by 5’s.

Use Your Hands

use hands for counting by 5's

Did you know that you have a built-in tool for helping your child learn to count by 5’s?  Your hands!  Each hand has five fingers, showing a concrete example of a group of five.  This is a great way to teach without spending any money.

Have your child hold up their hand as they count by 5’s, flashing it open and close as they count each group of five.  If they need help remembering what number comes next in the counting pattern, they can count on using their fingers on their hand.

We only have 10 fingers, so this strategy does not allow them to see the full amount that they counted, but it’s a great quick, and fun strategy to use.  It adds in some physical movement and is perfect for practicing counting on the go.

Also, toes are another great built-in way to practice!  We have five toes, so you can have your child practice counting by 5’s the same way as hands except using the feet instead.  You can have them stomp or kick for each group of five when counting. 

A Number Line

Using a number line to count by 5’s is similar to using a hundred chart to count, but a number line continues on horizontally, instead of having a row for each group of ten.  You can create your own number line out of paper and marker, or buy one like the Carson Dellosa Number Line. This number line is patterned for counting by 2’s, but you could circle the numbers that are in the count by 5’s pattern in a different color.

If you create your own number line, it is helpful to use a different color for the numbers with 5 in the one’s place and numbers with 0 in the one’s place so that it is easier for your child to see the pattern when counting.  Similar to a hundred chart, it may be a good idea to have your child create a number line on their own to connect with their learning. 

A number line can be a good way to bring some movement into learning as well.  You can have your child walk or run along the line, touching and counting each number in the counting by 5’s pattern as they go.


Nickels are worth 5 cents and a real-world example of when we may have to count by 5’s.  Nickels are a great way to teach counting by 5’s while also learning coin values.  Have your child use nickels to count by 5’s, touching each nickel as they go up by five, or stacking them up for a fine motor challenge.

I know that most parents don’t keep a handful of nickels on them at all times, but you can purchase pretend coins to use like the Learning Advantage Play Coin Set. You could also print out pictures of nickels to use.

In order to use nickels to teach counting by 5’s in an effective way,  your child has to first understand that nickels are worth 5 cents without being able to physically see that they are actually made up of five pennies.  This is more abstract and might be a better strategy for an older child.  They also would not be able to count on by ones using nickels if they need.  That being said, it is still a great way to teach it because it teaches another concept at the same time!

Use Music

singing counting by 5's

Some children learn well through music and studies have shown that music can help students retain information.  Luckily, there are a lot of songs to help with learning how to count by 5’s.  Although it is important that children have a concrete visual example to understand what counting by 5’s really means, a song can also really help them memorize that counting pattern.

You can make up your own counting by 5’s song with your child if you would like.  Allowing your child to create it on their own may actually help them remember it better.  It also adds a fun and creative aspect to it.  Adding movements to the song helps with the memorization as well.

If you are looking for a song or video that has already been created, check out Count by 5’s Jack Hartmann for a fun way to bring exercise into the counting or Counting By Fives Have Fun Teaching for a catchy song that will get stuck in your head.

Worksheets or an Activity Book

Worksheets should not be your go-to when first teaching a concept to a child, but they can be a good supplement to other activities. They can also be a good way to assess your child’s learning when you are not around to observe. 

I know that as busy parents we cannot always be interacting with our child all the time, and sometimes we just need to sit them down with a quick worksheet.  Luckily, there are lots of fun worksheets out there for practicing counting by 5’s.  You can always create your own, or you do a quick google search to find free ones on the internet, usually created by teachers.

If you are looking for a book of worksheets, check out the Ready-Set-Learn: Skip Counting Grd 1-2 workbook.  This workbook includes counting by 5’s worksheets, along with other skip counting skills as well (counting by 10’s, 2’s, 3’s, and 4’s.).

Other Fun Ideas

  • Write it out. Have your child practice writing out the counting pattern in different ways.  They can use fun crayons and markers, or even write it out in shaving cream or sand.
  • Work together. Take turns counting by 5’s where each person says a number.  Make it more of a challenge by adding in a sibling or friend if possible.
  • Play hopscotch. Set up hopscotch but use 5, 10, 15, 20, etc. for the numbers in the boxes.  Have your child say each number as they hop through. 
  • Make it a competition. Use a timer and see how fast your child can count by 5’s to 100 correctly.  Then challenge them to beat their time!
  • Use a calculator. Put 0+5 in the calculator, and continue to press the = button.  The calculator will continue adding 5 each time, showing the count by 5 patterns.  Make it a challenge by having your child say what number is coming next before pressing the equals button, and then have them check to see if they got it correct. 
  • Use food. Give your child a large handful of small food such as M&M’s or blueberries.  Then have them put them into groups of five and count them up by 5’s before or as they eat them.
  • Make art. Have your child make a bunch of dots on paper.  They can use crayons, markers, or paint.  Next, have them put circles around each group of five dots and count them up by 5’s.
  • Go outside. Practice counting by 5’s with objects you find outside such as rocks or leaves.  Or, have your child write out the counting pattern in the dirt using a stick.

For even more ideas, we put together a list of the best toys for teaching math to kids

Learning Styles

Something to keep in mind when teaching your child to count by 5’s (or really teaching them anything) is to consider what their learning style may be. Many children learn by using a combination of all styles.  This is why it is best to incorporate all of them if possible.  If you notice that your child may learn towards one of the styles, you may want to use that style to start with. 


Some children really need their learning to be hands-on.  They need something tactile to be able to touch and explore.  Using math manipulatives is great for children who are very hands-on.


Other children may be very visual.  These children need to be able to see what they are learning and make connections in visual ways such as seeing patterns.  Hundred charts and number lines where the counting by 5’s pattern is visible is great for these children.


Do you have a child that loves to move?  Some children learn well through physical exploration.  These children may love to use their hands or feet to learn to count by 5’s.  Adding movement throughout the counting may help them connect to the concept better and enjoy learning more.


Songs would be great for children who are auditory learners.  Children who like to learn this way will probably make connections in the song or music to help them remember how to count by 5’s.

FAQs about Teaching to Count by 5’s

When should my child be able to count by 5’s?

Before your child can count by 5’s, they should be able to count by 1’s and 10’s.  If they can count well by 1’s and 10’s, counting by 5’s should not be too difficult.  Although some children may be able to learn how to count by 5’s as early as Kindergarten, it is not expected for them to learn how to do it until 2nd Grade.

What are some common mistakes my child might make when counting by 5’s?

One common mistake that children make when counting by 5’s is that they think that all numbers that have 5’s and 0’s in them are used in the counting pattern.  This becomes an issue when you get to the fifties.  Remind your child that it means that 5 is in the one’s place, not the ten’s place like it is in 50.

Kids also tend to skip a whole group of ten sometimes when counting.  They will do something like count from 50, 55 to 70, 75.  This tends to happen when they have it memorized but don’t have a great understanding of what they are actually counting.  Using a hundred chart or number line can help with this.

Why is learning to count by 5’s important?

Learning how to count by 5’s is not only a faster way to count up objects, it also creates a foundation for good number sense when solving harder equations.  It helps your child see patterns in numbers.  If they know how to count by 5’s, solving an addition problem such as 20+5 becomes more simple.  It also is an important skill to know for multiplication.  Knowing how to count by 5’s makes multiplying any number by 5 a whole lot easier.

Wrap Up

Before you teach your child to count by 5’s, it is important that they are able to count by 1’s and 10’s first.  It is also helpful if they have an understanding of place value so that they can understand that they are counting by 5 ones and that the pattern for counting by 5’s goes 5 ones, 0 ones, with the ten’s place changing and going up.

There are many different strategies to try to teach your child to count by 5’s and I hope that you find one that works for you.  You can use what you have at home, or you can purchase something like the Learning Resources Linking Cubes to help.  Your child may be able to master it with just one strategy, or you can use them all.  Most importantly, make it a fun experience. Teaching your child to count by 5’s can be a great bonding activity.

Rachel Lacy
Rachel Lacy

Rachel Lacy is a teacher turned stay-at-home mom to a 1.5 year old daughter and another baby on the way. She has taught 1st Grade, Kindergarten and Gifted Education K-5. Her degree is in Early Childhood Education. She lives in AZ and enjoys exploring the outdoors.

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