“2, 4, 6, 8, who do we appreciate?” SkippyNums! SkippyNums is now available in the App Store – complete with new features that were not available in the beta version!
SkippyNums is a FREE accessible iPad app that helps young students learn to skip count. Skip counting is defined as a method of counting numbers by adding the same number every time to the previous number.
Learning to skip count helps students see patterns in numbers and is a foundation for number sense. It also helps students increase their fluency in regular counting and adding, boosts confidence when it comes to making money transactions, and is a precursor for multiplication and division.
While there is a plethora of educational apps that reinforce skip counting, these mainstreams apps are visual in nature and are not accessible with a screen reader. Created by a tech savvy recent high school grad who is visually impaired, SkippyNums has been designed specifically for students who use VoiceOver. This app works best with VoiceOver on!
Customize your game play:
This game can be played with VoiceOver on or off; the directions and videos in this post assume that VoiceOver is on. See the videos for additional game play information.
The Learn Mode is the most basic mode that includes an announcement that models how to rote skip count. Example announcement: “There are 3 groups of 2 monkeys: 2, 4, 6. There are 6 monkeys altogether.” Double tap on the monkeys to listen to the monkey sound six times. In the Learn Mode, the student is given all the information and is not asked to find the correct number of monkeys.
SkippyNums video demonstrating customizing game play and Learn mode:
The Practice Mode is the next step. The Practice Mode provides the skip counting announcement as the student swipes through the groups. Example: The instruction announcement is “Count the monkeys by twos”. The student makes a right swipe to navigate through each group of 2 monkeys. The announcement states the skip count number, so in this example, if you swipe right quickly through the groups of monkeys, you will hear “2 image” announcement, right swipe again and hear “4 image”, right swipe again and hear “6 image. That’s all the monkeys. How many monkeys altogether? Select from the choices at the bottom of the screen.”
Double tap on a group to count the sounds of each item in the group. This example has 2 groups of monkeys. Double tap on the first group and you will hear the monkey sound twice. Double tap on the next group and you will hear the monkey sound two more times. This feature enables the student to count all the monkey sounds in every group (1, 2, 3, 4) to support the understanding of skip counting (2, 4).
The Practice Mode has answer choices in a row along the bottom of the screen. The student should double tap on the desired answer.
SkippyNums Practice video:
The Play Mode does not provide skip counting announcements. The student navigates through the groups and must skip count on his/her own and then select the desired answer from answer choices at the bottom of the screen.
The Play Mode has the option of 1-minute game play, 2-minute game play or untimed. Untimed is perfect for those students who should not be rushed. Students who are more familiar with skip counting will enjoy the speed of trying to get as many correct answers as possible in the allotted time.
SkippyNums Play video:
It is recommended that when introducing SkippyNums, especially when introducing the Practice Mode, that the student is encouraged to systematically drag and explore the screen. Learning the screen layout is an important tech skill. Building a mental map of the screen is not only a tech skill, but also a critical math skill. Math requires strong spatial concepts!
The layout of the groups is intentionally designed to mimic a 10-frame. As students begin to build spatial concepts, this layout subtly helps students learn that there can be up to give groups in a row. During SkippyNums field testing, one student shared his personal shortcut – to start counting with the number six in the second row (instead of counting the five groups in the first row before moving to the sixth group in the second row).
For students to understand the layout of the screen, the student will need to drag in a straight line across the row of groups. To understand the 10-frame layout, students will need to drag in a straight line across 2 rows of groups. As always, connect concepts – such as the 10-frame layout – by using both tactile 10-frames, teacher-created iPad 10-frame overlay, and by dragging a finger across the digital 10-frame layout. Only after the student understands the layout should the student transition to using the swipe gesture for speed purposes.
When dragging or swiping to the first group in the Practice Mode or Play Mode, there is announcement of how many groups there are and how many items in each group. Example: “There are 10 groups of 2 cows.” The student should listen carefully for this announcement and begin to build a mental map of the screen using that information. In the example of ten groups of 2 cows, 10 of the 10 blocks in a 10 frame will be filled – meaning that there should be 2 full rows of cows. “There are 5 groups of 2 cows.” indicates that there is 1 full row of cows.
This type of thinking, “10 groups of 2” is the foundation for multiplication. Students will start to realize and memorize that 10 groups of 2 = 20 cows.
Sonification is included in the Practice and Play modes. Sonification – sounds that convey meaning – is a subtle way to identify that the game is skip counting by twos, fives or tens. When counting by twos, the sound is a simple one-note chord which is heard each time you move to a new group. When counting by fives, the sound is a two-note chord. When counting by tens, the sound is a three-note chord, and the chord. This chord is a full, rich sound. Want to focus on the chord sounds? Mute VoiceOver speech with a 3-finger double tap, then swipe or drag thru the groups. You will hear just the earcons (click when moving to the next group) and the chord. 3-finger double tap will turn the VoiceOver speech back on.
The sonification can be helpful when playing the Mix-it up skip counting. Sonification is used in higher math skills especially with charts and graphs. It is critical to introduce sonification early in simple ways to build strong math foundations. Incorporating sonification in SkippyNums is a fun and easy way for students to learn to listen to the sounds and to learn that these sounds can convey meaning.
SkippyNums Teacher Hints video:
SkippyNums automatically tracks the player’s score and the number of tries. The score is available immediately on the question screen. The score is NOT associated with a specific player and is not stored or shared. If playing the timed games, when the time is up, there is an option of Next Round (which accumulates the scores even when a new round begins or after choosing a different skip count number) or Reset Score. The untimed games have unlimited rounds, and the scores continue to accumulate. Select the New Game button to restart the scoring.
Tyler is a recent high school grad who has always been interested in coding. You may remember Tyler from previous posts:
Editor’s Note: A huge thank you to Tyler, the developer of SkippyNums. Congratulations on your first app available in the App Store!