Number Frame and Number Sense

Five ways to Teach Addition

Addition is one of the fundamental concepts in mathematics, and as a parent/teacher, we must give a child various experiences to add before actually moving to the column addition. Following are some of the activities that we can do before moving to the standard algorithm:

  1. Using blocks/objects. Children understand a lot better when whatever they are learning; they can see visually. Concrete materials give the child an experience of hands-on learning, which children enjoy and can efficiently imbibe the concept. We can use children blocks like legos or building blocks to teach the addition of two or more numbers.
  2. Using a Number Line. The number line is one of the essential tools to help a child understand addition. It helps a child visualize that when we are adding, we move on the right side of the number line. So we can take examples like 24 + 5 and show a child how we are moving from 0 to 24 first and then moving five steps further to the right to find the answer.
  3. Using Pictures. We can take a square for a ten and a circle for ones and then ask a child to add 12 + 38 by making pictures first. Like:

    And then add the tens and ones separately to find the sum.
  4. Separating ones and tens. When we directly move to the standard algorithm then there is a high chance that children look at the digits in a two-digit number as separate digits and do the operation accordingly like when adding 23 + 34, they add 2 + 3 = 5 and 3 + 4 = 7 and tell the answer 57. This is a blunder from which we want to save our child. 5 and 7 don’t make 57, but 50 and 7 make. So we can start by helping a child look at 23 as 2 tens and 3 ones ( = 20 + 3) and 34 as 3 tens and 4 ones ( = 30 + 4) and then add tens and ones separately and later on add tens and ones.
  5. Standard Algorithm. After adding in all the previous ways, when a child is comfortable enough, then we may move forward to the standard algorithm,i.e., column addition. In column addition, we add the ones first and then add the tens (along with the carryover, if any).


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