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Addition Games

Use Math Manipulatives to Teach Addition Games and Activities

These addition games and activities will increase your student's comprehension of math concepts and improve their basic skills by using fun math MANIPULATIVES.

Activities are presented easiest to hardest. More advanced concepts are towards the bottom of the page.

Let's Make a Game of It: These activities can be done one-on-one or in a group. Most can be done competitively as a game. See math games for ideas on how to use math activities competitively.

A Favorite Addition Game

Here's a simple change of pace to practice addition to either 10 or 100. Use one dice if you are working on addition to 10 or to 20. Otherwise, use two die - either regular, dice-in-dice, or ten sided-dice.

Roll the dice, add up the numbers. Write down the answer, and roll again. (Writing down the answer is so you can check their work later.)

First one to one hundred (or other designated number) wins. THEN, you double check the work they wrote down. If they made a mistake, they lose 30 points.

Simple Addition

Addition games help master addition facts.
Use simple manipulatives to teach basic addition.

Prerequisite: Child can count and recognize digits.

simple math facts

Adding Objects

Supplies Needed: Objects to count
You may use any simple objects: toy cars, paper clips, counting bears, crayons, spoons and forks.

addition problems
  • Put two objects one on one side; and one on another.
  • Ask how many are on one side.
  • Ask how many are on the other.
  • Tell the child to add them and tell how many there are all together.
  • Say, "Yes, 2 plus 1 equals 3."
To make this one of your addition games, have the student count 4 to 6 different sets of objects.

Adding by One

Goal: Increase comprehension of addition and begin memorizing addition facts.

Supplies Needed: A number line or ruler. You can also use hop scotch squares or linoleum kitchen tiles that have numbers marked off.

    Let them see the number line.
    Ask, "If I have three, and add one more, how many will I have?"
    Repeat this activity five or six times with different numbers (not in chronological order.)
    Then move the number line so it is not visible. Repeat with two or three more numbers.

Adding with Cuisennaire Rods

Supplies needed: Individual set of Cuisennaire Rods. These manipulatives are one of the best (if not the best) for teaching addition and multiplication

See below if you do not have access to these blocks.

This activity is more abstract than the counting objects activity above. It helps the student take the concept of addition one step further mentally.

Pre-requisite: The student should have some familiarity with the rods and recognize the different colors. For instance, the yellow rod is always five.

If the student is not familiar with the rods, give them time to experiment and play with them.

addition with cuisennaire rods
  • Put the one block and the three block end to end ("choo choo train style").
  • Put the four block side by side with the one and three block.
  • Show them 1+3=4.
  • Then ask them, "What is 3 + 2?"
  • They need to put the 3 rod and the 2 rod lengthwise, and find that the 5 rod is the same size.
  • Continue this activity seven or eight times with different addition problems.
If you do not have Cuisennaire Rods, you can make them using one centimeter graph paper. They are not as easy to use, or as appealing, but it does get the point across.

Addition by Two

Pre-Requisite: Child can do the addition by one activity without looking at a number line.

Supplies: A number line (or ruler with numbers)

This is the same activity as the addition by one with the number line above, but now we will be adding by two.
  • Show the number line.
  • Show that when you add two, you "jump" over one number.
  • Ask five to six addition problems with addition by two.
  • Then, with the number line removed, ask them three or four more problems.

Flash Cards

The purpose of flash cards is to give the student a chance to "drill" the addition facts. While comprehension through addition games and activities is important, final learning of addition facts requires some drill.

You may purchase addition flashcards or make your own out of index cards. Other tools for reinforcing math facts include:
  • computer games
  • worksheets
At this stage, you may want to only drill the student with the addition by one, addition by two, and include the 3+3 flash card.

As the additional math facts are added, add those cards to the stack you are using.

Addition Worksheets

yellow math worksheets book
Over 900 Worksheets - Only $5.99

www.A-to-Z-Worksheets.com offers hundreds of math worksheets for a very reasonable price - including addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. You'll always have a worksheet ready for a little additional practice.

Adding Events

Up to now, we have been adding tangible objects. This activity will take the concept a little further.

Pre-requisite: Grasps the concept of adding objects.

  • You clap your hands two times. Ask the child to clap her hands three times. How many claps were there?
  • Stomp your left foot three times. Stomp your right foot three times. How many stomps?
  • Take four big steps. Now take three big steps. How many steps?

Total Number

Do this after students have learned to add numbers - particularly one, two, and maybe three. This is going to look at the same concept, but from a different perspective.

With this activity, they will learn all the addition problems that produce the answer of "5" or "6" or other number to ten.

Supplies Needed: You will need one or more of these tools:
  • Cuisennaire Rods (the easiest)
  • Abacus
  • 5 Crayons
  • 5 of any one object
If you are using the rods, give them the 5 rod, and ask them to find how many different ways they can make 5. I call this a "5 Quilt".

If you are using five objects, give them two plates and ask how many different addition problems they can make breaking the five objects into two groups.

If you are using an abacus or crayons, put the beads or crayons together. Roll a bead or crayon to the side, and show how that is also an addition problem. Have them find all the combinations they can make.

Number Line Jumps

This continues using a number line to aid in addition.

Supplies: Number line, ruler, or a game board (purchased or homemade) that has ladder-like spaces that are numbered.

  • Put a game marker or penny at the beginning space.
  • Roll a single die.
  • The marker should move their marker to that space.
  • Roll the die again. Rather than having the student count by ones, have them add the number of the die to the space they are on. They can move if they added correctly.
  • If you are only working on addition facts to ten, you will stop when you get to ten.
  • Repeat this activity two or three times.

Math Balance

math balance A math balance uses weighted numbers or distance from the middle of the balance to aid with addition.

Supplies: A commercial balance for elementary math and the numbers as weights.

  • Give the students the math problem and have them put the numbers on the balance.
  • Ask them to find the answer and put it on the other side.
  • Repeat eight to ten times.

Money Math

Pre-requisite: Child can add by fives or is learning to.

Supplies: Pennies and nickles (real or play money). You will also need index cards or small slips of paper.

  • On each card, put a nickle and several pennies.
  • The student can write the answer on the card.
  • Have three to five cards with different money problems.

Partners to Ten

In the activity "Total Number" above, students learned to find the different math equations that would add to a particular number. Knowing the math facts to ten is paricularly important.

simple math facts

While all addition facts are important, they will need the "partners to ten" in order to quickly add larger numbers (ie 5 + 8)

Match the Pairs

This addition activity will increase their ability to find the partners to ten.

Supplies: Two sets of index cards with the digits 1 through 9 written on them (two 1's; two 2's; two 3's.....)

  • Mix the numbers up so they are not in order.
  • Lay the cards face up on the table in random order.
  • Time the student as he or she matches the card whose numbers add up to ten.
  • Tell them the time it took them.
  • Do this math activity four to five times a week until they are confident of the math facts to ten.

Other Partner to Ten Games

Look at the directions for other ideas above on the Total Number activities.

If you have Cuisennaire Rods, let them make the ten quilt multiple times to reinforce these pairs.

Another easy to understand activity is with the crayons or abacus.
  • Put five unbroken crayons side by side touching each other.
  • Have another five crayons side by side several inches away.
  • Most students find it easy to learn 5+5=10. Ask them if they have ten crayons.
  • Roll one crayon from the left side to the right. Ask them "4 + what = 10?"
  • Roll another crayon to the right and ask "3 + what = ten?"
  • Continue until all crayons are moved to the right.
  • Put the crayons back so there are five on each side. Randomly move crayons back and forth and ask for the partner.

Addition Facts Above 10

It's time to learn to add the big numbers!

simple math facts

Pre-rerequisite: Can add math facts to ten AND knows the partners to ten.

Continue Math Facts

Continue to do math drills with flash cards or other method, adding the equations as you learn them.

Ten Plus

Most children learn to add ten to a single digit number easily.
  • 10 + 6 = 16
  • 10 + 2 = 12
  • 10 + 9 + 19 etc
The following activities can reinforce addition by 10:
  • Use the money math game above with dimes and pennies.
  • Use the Cuisennaire Rods with the ten rod and the single digit rods.
  • Use an abacus

Cuisennaire Rods or Other Manipulatives

add with cuisennaire rods Teaching addition of numbers larger than five is one of the greatest advantages of the Cuisennaire Rods.

If you do not have the Cuisennaire Rods, you can use objects paired to ten such as the crayons described above.

Start with addition by 5's
  • Show that 5 + 5 = 10, by laying the 5 rods "choo choo train sytle" and the ten rods along side of the five rods.
  • Ask "What is 5+5?"
  • Remove one of the 5 rods, and replace it with a 6 rod. Ask, "Then what is 5 + 6?"
  • They should visually see that the 5 + 6 rods are "1" larger than the 10 rod.
  • Have them add a 1 rod to the 10 rod to make 11.
  • Use this technique to teach math facts whose sum is 11, 12, or 13.

Addition By Nine

add with cuisennaire rods Once students are comfortable adding "ten" to a single digit number, they can learn to add "nine."

Cuisennaire Rods
  • The student should recognize that a 10 rod and a 6 rod equal 16.
  • Put a 10 rod and a 9 rod side by side.
  • Add a 6 rod to the end of the 9 rod "choo choo train style."
  • Ask, "What rod do I need to add to the ten so it is as long as 9 + 6?
  • Answer: 5
  • Demonstrate and say, "10 + 5 = 9 + 6"
  • Continue this activity for seven to eight problems.
Math Balance
The math balance is another manipulative that reinforces addition by ten.
  • On the left have the 9 and the 6 digits.
  • On the right have the 10 digit.
  • Ask, what number do I have to add to the 10 to make it balance?
Let's Do This In Reverse
use cuissennaire rods Some children actually do the addition by nine easier as a subtraction problem. It is a subtle difference.

Here is the reverse way of showing that 4 + 9 = 10 + 3 as we did above with the Cuisennaire Rods.
  • Have the 10 and 3 rods length wise in "choo choo train style."
  • Put the 9 rod side by side to the 10 rod.
  • Ask, "Nine plus what equals thirteen?"
  • Have them find the rod that fits.

Here is the reverse way of showing that 4 + 9 = 10 + 3 as we did above with the Math Balance.
  • Hang the 9 digit on the left side of the scale.
  • Hang the 10 and 3 digits on the right side of the scale.
  • Ask, "Nine plus what equals thirteen?"

The Hundreds Board

hundreds board The Hundreds Board is an effective tool for learning larger addition facts. The hundreds board can be purchased or made.

Supplies Needed: The Hundred Board and a transparent token. If you do not have a transparent token that sets on top of the number square, you can use a small bead or object that allows the child to still see the number.

  • Put the token on 6 on the number board.
  • Ask, "What is 6 + 10?" Have them either point to 16, or put another token on top of 16.
  • Now ask, "If 6 + 10 is 16, what is 6 + 9?"
  • Let them answer, or count.
  • They should point a place a token on 15.
  • Do this with five or six different addition by nine problems.

Addition By Eight

Once the student has mastered addition by nine facts, then teach addition by eight.

Use the same manipulatives that demonstrated addition by nine:
  • Cuisennaire Rods
  • Abacus
  • Math Balance
  • Hundreds Board

Sums Greater Than 20

simple math facts

Base Ten Blocks

Base Ten Blocks are an effective tool for teaching place value as well as addition and subtracction.

Addition Without Regrouping
Base Ten Blocks for addition First use the Base Ten Blocks, or a substitute, to demonstrate addition without regrouping.
  • 22 + 1
  • 63 + 5
  • 80 + 9
  • 13 + 4
    • For the problem "63 + 5", give the student 6 ten blocks, and 3 unit (or "ones") blocks.
    • Ask them to add 5 more unit blocks.
    • Have them tell you how many then now have.
    • You can use this activity with a worksheet. Let them solve the problems on the worksheet using the blocks. Then, have them solve those problems without the blocks.

We can guarantee they will comprehend the meaning of addition far more than if they simply did the worksheets. Even students who get the right answer, don't always comprehend the implications of their answer.

Addition With Regrouping adding with base ten blocks After the students are familiar with addition without regrouping, they learn addition with regrouping.
  • 17 + 7
  • 39 + 4
  • 88 + 5
    • Let's use 39 + 4 as our example.
    • Give the student 3 ten blocks and 9 unit ("one") blocks.
    • Now give them another 4 unit blocks.
    • Ask them how many they have.
    • If they say they have 13 units, show them that if you write 313 that that is far more blocks than you actually have.
    • Talk about making an exchange. Tell them you will give them 1 ten block for 10 unit blocks. Do so.
    • Now ask them how many they have. They will have 43.
    • Give them a token each time they do they problem correctly.
    • This is one of the addition games that will likely be repeated multiple times before this concept is completely understood.

Hundreds Board Game

This is one of the addition games that can be played both before and after introducing worksheet addition problems with sums greater than 20.

Supplies:Hundred's board with numbers to 100, game piece markers (may use pennies or transparent markers), a singe die.

  • Start at 0.
  • The first player rolls the die, then moves their marker that number of spaces by counting as they move their marker.
  • The next player rolls, and moves the number of spaces indicated on the die.
  • Winner is the first person to get to 100 (or any other pre-set number.)
  • This game introduces the next game.

This game is the same as the one above, except the child mentally adds the number on the die to the number on the space they are at.

They do not count as they move their marker, but they add instead.

EXAMPLE - If the player had her piece on "27" and she rolls a "5"; she needs to add 27 + 5.
  • If she is has difficulty, ask her: "What is 7 + 5?"
  • If she says, "12", put your finger on the 12 space.
  • Ask, "If 7+5 is 12," (now put a finger of your other hand on the 27 while keeping your other finger on the 12) "what is 27 + 5?"
  • Remember, it is more important for the student to grasp the concepts of addition, than it is for them to get all the right answers or win the game.

Double Double

This is an addition game that prepares the student for multiplication. (A subtle little trick on your part!)

Supplies: None! I like to use this game in the car.

Double That!
  • I give the student a number between one and ten.
  • He has to give me the double of that number.
  • Start with the numbers under ten. (8+8)
  • As he masters it, use numbers between ten and fifty-five that do not require regrouping. (23+23)
  • Then use double-digit numbers that do require regrouping. (46 + 46)
    • Teach them to whisper "80 and 12"
    • Then answer "92" in a louder voice.
  • Play this game sporadically until his ability to double a number is quick.
  • Students enjoy "doubling" and find the concept rather easy. When they learn multiplication by two, they will realize it is simply the Double Game.

Double Double
  • Give the student a number. They have to double it, then double it again.
    • For example, you give the number "6."
    • She whispers "12."
    • Then you say "Double again" - if she needs the prompt.
    • She answers "24."
  • Provide five or six different numbers each session this is played.
  • She is multiplying by four. This will be a bonus for her when the multiplication tables are introduced.

Let's Roll

Practice addition facts.
Supplies: two dice

How its played:
  • First player rolls both dice.
  • The two numbers are added, and written down on a paper under her name.
  • The second (and subsequent players) do the same on their turn.
  • On the next round, the first player rolls the dice, and adds the sum of the numbers. That sum is then added to the sum on her paper.
  • The student may be allowed to use the paper as worksheet, or be asked to do the math mentally (depending on their skill level.) This allows players of different ages to play together.
  • If they get the answer wrong, deduct ten points from their score.
  • The first one to reach 100 wins.

Add Money

This further enhances the skills obtained with the Base Ten Blocks. In addition, it sets the stage for decimals and makes them more confident using money.

Supplies: Dimes, nickles and pennies (real or play money); 3 to 4 sticky-notes or scraps of paper.
  • Start by giving problems similiar to the ones used with Base Ten Blocks above. (Such as 45 + 23). Use only dimes and pennies.
  • Demonstrate that two nickles are the same as a dime.
  • Put several of the sticky notes or scraps of paper on the table. Place a random amount of change in two different piles above the sticky notes.
  • They need to count the amount of money in each pile. They write down the two amounts, and find the sum of both.
  • Teach them to use the decimal sign when they do this. Example: 0.48 is the same as 48 cents.
  • Tell them that is how money is written, and the reason will make sense later.

Addition Greater Than 100

simple math facts

Base Ten Blocks

place value with base ten blocks
Use the Base Ten Blocks, or a substitute, to demonstrate addition with hundreds, tens, and units.

Addition with thousands and ten thousands can be added as the student expands their comprehension of place value.

Let's Go Shopping

Practice adding a variety of numbers, using decimals, and understanding the value of money.

Supplies: Catalog or colorful advertisement such as you might find in the Sunday paper.

Pick Three
  • Ask the student to pick any three items in the catalog.
  • They need to add up the price of the three items.
  • If they have an allowance, ask them how long they would need to save to acquire those items.
Stay in Budget
  • Give a hypothetical budget. For instance, $100 for new clothes, $300 to buy camping supplies, $50 for Christmas gifts for friends, etc.
  • Let them find items in the catalog or on-line.
  • They need to correctly add the items desired.
  • Could they stay in budget?
Plan A Meal
  • Using the weekly grocery advertisement, plan a meal of items listed.
  • Add up the cost.
  • How much does your meal come to?

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