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Teaching Addition in FDK

Wow the year is flying by! I can't believe we are working on addition already!

Read on to grab some ideas for teaching addition!

Day 1:

On the first day I just introduce addition and tell them that addition is like composing numbers, we just use different symbols.  Instead of using "and" and "make" we use "+" and "=".


Day 2:

On the second day we go over the learning goal and success criteria.  The learning goal is "we are learning to solve addition sentences" and the success criteria is "I know I can do this when I can put the numbers in the number sentence together and say or write the answer."

Then we play the game "Collect & Add".

How to Play:

Before you play hide small objects around the room (I usually use Easter eggs)

1. Have the students sit in a circle and put 2 hoola hoops in the middle.
2. Write an addition sentence frame ( ___ + ___ = ___ ) on chart paper or on the whiteboard.
3. Tell students that you will pick 2 students at a time to collect as many Easter eggs as they can within a set amount of time (start small, like 10 seconds).
4.  Demonstrate first with a partner (your ECE, EA or a responsible student if you are on your own). First assign each person a hoola hoop.  Press start on the timer and demonstrate how to go and find an egg, bring it back and put it into your hoola hoop.  You may want to go over some rules such as walking feet only, you can only retrieve 1 egg at a time etc.
5.  Keep collecting until the timer rings.  When the timer rings have both players come back to the carpet.  Count all the eggs in the first hoola hoop.  Write the number in the addition sentence frame.
6. Count all the eggs in the second hoola hoop.  Write the number in the addition sentence frame.
6.  Solve the addition sentence by counting all the eggs.  Write the answer in the addition sentence frame.

Repeat as time allows.
Make the time on the timer longer each time so that the equations get harder.

Day 3:

On the third day we play the "Collect & Add" game again as it's always a popular game and the kids often want a turn if they hadn't gotten one yet!

Day 4:

On the fourth day we start talking about addition strategies.

I introduce all five strategies but we focus on "use your fingers" first.


I tell them that we can solve addition problems by using our fingers.
Then we watch "When You Add With a Pirate" by Harry Kindergarten.
I model how to use fingers as the pirates read their addition stories and prompt the kids to follow along and practice too.


Day 5:

Next we talk about the strategy "count on".
We talk about how sometimes we won't have enough fingers to solve an addition question and "count on" is a strategy we can use.

I write some addition sentences that have a sum between 11-15.  Then I model how to "count on" by putting the bigger number in my head and then holding up the number I'm going to add on and counting up.  We practice this together a few times to get use to it.

Day 6:

Next we practice the strategy "use manipulatives".

First we talk about different manipulative we could use for addition in our classroom.  Some common suggestions are snap cubes, counting bears and linking chains.

Then, I have the kids sit in a circle and pull out the big foam dice.
Then I have a student come and roll the die and build the number with snap cubes.
Then I have a second student come and roll the die and build the number with snap cubes.
Then we write the addition sentence, put all the cubes together, count the cubes and write the answer.

We repeat as time allows to practice.

Day 7:

Next we practice the strategy "draw a picture".

I write this question on the board.

____ has 2 dogs.  ____ has 3 cats.  How many animals do they have all together?
(I always use the names of the kids in the class in word problems.  They get such a kick out of it!)

Then I demonstrate how to draw a picture to show this problem.  I draw 2 dogs and 3 cats and then we touch and count each animal to figure out how many animals there are all together.  

I do tell them that this isn't art class but a math strategy so it is ok if the pictures aren't very detailed.  I want them to know that a quick sketch is just find :)

Day 8:

Next we practice the strategy "use a number line".

First I write a number sentence on the board.
For example I might write 

5 + 2 =

Then I show them how to put a dot on the first number on the number line (the 5) then to hop 2 spots to the left to get the answer.

We practice this a few times with different equations.

Day 9:

On the last day we review all 5 strategies.

I read them this question

____ has 4 toys and ____ has 6 toys.  How many toys do they have all together?
(Again I use names of the kids in our class for the blanks).

Then I ask them "how can we solve this addition problem?"

I have them give me the first solution.  Then I ask them if anyone can think of a different way.  I try to keep going until we talk about all or almost all of the strategies.

Of course we practice, practice, practice during centre time too!

Here are some of the addition centres we use to practice:

1. My Book of Domino Addition



I set out this booklet with a basket of dominos.  I have the kids pick a domino, copy the domino onto the booklet and then write the number sentence to match.



 2. Ten-Frame Addition Puzzles



Students match the puzzle pieces to complete the ten-frames and record the addition number sentences.

3. Sticker Addition


This one is ALWAYS a huge hit!

The kids put some stickers in each square and then add the two sides together and complete the addition sentence.  Small stickers work best for this activity!

4. Roll, Add & Colour


At this centre students will take turns rolling 2 dice and colouring the sum.
If they roll a sum that is already coloured, they lose a turn.
The first person to colour in all of the numbers is the winner!


5. Addition Story Problems


We practice these whole group first and some of my higher kids do them independently.

6. Counting Bear Addition


I have the students roll the colour dice and the regular dice into the bin and build that many bears of that colour on the mat.  Then they roll again and build the second number in the second colour.  Then they add the 2 colours together and show me the corresponding number sentence.  I set out both expo markers and magnets so that the kids could choose to build or write the numbers.

7. Play Dough Addition


This one is similar to the counting bear addition, but with play dough! I set out 2 dice per sheet and at least 2 different colours of play dough.  I have the kids roll the dice and build the 2 numbers in different colours.  Then they show me how many play dough balls they have all together by completing the number sentence.

The centres you see in this blog post can be found in my addition unit on TPT.

You can click here or on the images below to check it out!





I hope you were able to grab some ideas for teaching addition!
What fun activities do you plan when you teach addition?

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