My older son Brandon (now a married father) was not even six years old when he started listening to the skip count CD songs. After listening to the songs for a few weeks, he said to me, “Daddy, I noticed that 12 is on the chorus for the 2’s song, and for the 3’s song, and for the 4’s song. Then it isn’t on the chorus for the 5’s song, but then it is on the chorus for the 6’s song. Then it’s not on any other choruses after that. Daddy, should I be noticing things like that?”
I was floored. I had not encouraged or prompted him to think about this type of thing at all. And here a six year-old was talking in meaningful ways about what he would many years later realize involved terms like factor, divisor, multiples, common multiples, and divisibility. When he told me that 12 was on the chorus for the 2’s song and 3’s song, for example, that was a setup for later learning each of the following:
• 12 is a multiple of both 2 and 3
• 12 is a common multiple of 2 and 3
• 12 is divisible by both 2 and 3
• 2 and 3 are factors of 12
• 2 and 3 are divisors of 12
When Brandon mentioned to me what he had noticed, I was thrilled. Rather than laying on him a math lecture about factors and divisors, I instead just gave him a big smile and said, “I’m proud of you that you notice things like that. Keep it up.” He did keep it up, and math was always one of his best subjects. I’m convinced all that started with the fun and sensibility of skip count songs.