SkipBo for Kindergarten Math Learning

Playing kindergarten math games like SkipBo helps kids learn math concepts in a fun and engaging way.

We play games for kindergarten this year. It’s the new normal. I’ve learned to adjust my expectations of Kindergarten learning. When Raisin was in kindergarten, he, as my first and only school-aged child, had to deal with what I’ll call, “An overload of curriculum.” There were many tears. Now, five years later, I’ve learned to adjust and adapt to my second child’s unique learning style.  Enter our current math activities: Skip-Bo kindergarten math games.

How to Play Skip-Bo for Kindergarten Math Games

The main goal of this number sequencing game is for each player to empty their personal “stock pile” of cards.  In front of all players is a playing area that allows for up to four piles of cards added from 1 to 12. Each player holds a hand of five cards at the beginning of his or her turn. Players may use the cards in their hand, in their personal stock pile (of which on the top card is visible), or in their own personal discard piles to sequence from 1 to 12 over and over again. The Skip-Bo card is the envied card, because using the wild will help the player more easily get to the stock pile card that must be played next.  The first player to completely deplete his or her stock pile is the winner.

Skip-Bo has an age rating of 7 and up. Because of the various piles of cards I just described, at first glance, Skip-Bo may seem a bit overwhelming. It is a bit of a learning curve for anyone younger than that, which is why I would not expect young kids to play it all on their own. However, with an older mentor, playing Skip-Bo is a fun game for even the kindergartner, as he or she practices sequencing from 1 to 12 and substituting (or “skipping” numbers) to get to the desired number he or she needs to play.

Playing kindergarten math games like SkipBo helps kids learn math concepts in a fun and engaging way.Kindergarten Games: Math Learned from Skip-Bo

Playing with number cards teaches number recognition. Beyond that basic, though, here are just a few of the things learned from playing Skip-Bo for Kindergarten math.

Addition to 5. Before every turn, a player must make sure he or she has 5 cards in hand. This is great addition practice. How many more cards do you need to make five? 0+5, 1+4, 2+3, 3+2, 4+1. Strawberry does really well at this part of the game. she recognizing that 2 and 3 are 5, because she’ll frequently need 2 more cards each turn!

Sequencing to 12. The main play of the game is playing cards from 1 to 12. After a few games, Strawberry quickly figured out this point of the game. At the beginning we needed to review counting to 12, but once she became comfortable, she loves that she can count that high.

Skipped numbers. When your stock pile (we call it a secret pile) shows a 4 and the playing cards in front show a 2, what number is needed in order for you to

Higher and lower numbers. At the end of each turn, players discard one of their cards in the spot in front of them, face up. If the cards in the playing area are all low numbers, wetalk about which numbers are higher and my not be needed yet. Strawberry has gained a solid grasp of the difference between 2 and 11 in terms of higher or lower.

Counting up to 20 or 30. To start the game, we count out 20 or 30 cards (depending on how long we want the game to be) to form our stock pile. This is the pile that we must play, one card at a time, in order to win the game. Although Strawberry is just now (mid-way through Kindergarten) learning to count that high by herself, counting it out together has been great practice to get her to that level.

Strategy is developing as we play more frequently. I would not say that my almost six-year-old girl is ready to take on the Skip-Bo pros, but as she becomes more confident in her math skills, she is better able to plan ahead and anticipate what will come.

Want to see her at play? Check out the small video we made together!

Adapting Skip-Bo for Homeschool Kindergarten Math

When my daughter and I began playing Skip-Bo about six months ago, she was just about to start homeschool kindergarten with me. She already had a solid visual recognition of the numbers from 1 to 12, although she struggled to count in order sometimes. She would get frustrated if we were playing with my older son (because he was not patient and went a bit too fast, or criticized her errors). As we began our official Kindergarten time, I made sure it was just a game for her and for me.

For kids that are not familiar with card games, I suggest starting with Old Maid or Go Fish. To gain number recognition skills, practice Uno, which is a great game for learning to match numbers and colors. Once basic number recognition is developed, Skip-Bo may be a nice game to try.

Even still, after four months of regular playing, Strawberry often leaves all her cards on the table for guidance and direction. Don’t be afraid to help whenever it is asked for, and allow “take backs” if your kindergartner recognizes a possible play just as she plays something. It becomes so much fun when she gets the hang of it, and recognizing “oops” plays is a big part of improving.

Limitations of Skip-Bo for Kindergarten Math Game Time

Playing Skip-Bo does not practice one-to-one correspondence, and it does not address the need to learn to tell time, discern shapes, use coins, and add and subtract on a larger level. But, given what playing Skip-Bo for kindergarten math does teach, it is a delightful part of our homeschooling kindergarten math learning schedule.

Want more Kindergarten math games or kindergarten math activities? Check out some of these posts and games!

Click over to Rock Your Homeschool for more ideas on how to make math fun!

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