Addition activities are a great way to help kids learn, practice, and master addition facts. Conceptually, kids are beginning to understand that adding is what takes place when the objects in two or more smaller groups come together and make one big group. They are also wrestling with notions of part and whole, and the fact that you can manipulate a group of objects in many ways to make different kinds of addition problems.
For this activity, you will need counters that are 2 different colors, one color on each side. You can buy these, or you can make your own by spray painting beans a different color on each side. Start by giving each child a quantity of beans at the level you want to practice. If you want to practice addition facts up to 5, give children 5 beans each.
Have them shake up the beans (like dice) and let them fall on the table. Put the beans of one color in one pile, and those of the other color in a second pile. Count each pile and add them together. You may also ask kids to write down the sums they make that add up to 5. Make several different sums. How many ways could they make 5?
Especially for tactile learners, writing can be an important way to help learn and remember addition facts. You can dictate facts for them to answer, have kids draw pictures to solve a problem, ask them to think of their own addition facts to write, etc. Writing facts over and over on paper is boring, though, and it's really unnecessary. Try some of these fun addition activities for drawing or writing addition facts:
Make a giant number line outdoors using sidewalk chalk, starting at 0. You will also need 2 giant dice, which can be made or purchased.
Pick a child to walk the number line and another 2 children to roll the two dice.
walker stand on 0, then take steps on the number line to match the amount on one of the dice.
Ask: "What number do you think you will be standing on when you add the other number?" Ask the other kids if
they think her guess is correct. Then have the walker continue along the number line to add the second number.
Spend a few dollars and buy a large beach ball for this game. With a permanent marker, write numbers from 1 to 10 all over the beach ball. It's ok if numbers are repeated; just mix up where you put them.
To play the game, stand in a circle (if there are many kids) or face to face (if there are just two of you). Throw the ball back and forth. Whenever you catch it, look at where your thumbs landed and add those two numbers together before throwing the ball to the next person.
Math boards are basically an interesting background for addition practice with small objects. They are versatile enough to be used for all sorts of addition activities, they are super easy to make, and kids love them. To use them, give each child a math board and some of the manipulatives or counters suggested below. You can then have kids draw number cards or roll dice to see what numbers to add together, or either you or a child could suggest a math fact to solve. Here are some examples:
Work in plenty of addition activities that give practice in adding with physical objects or counters. Colored frogs or teddy bears are great for this, as a different color can be used for each set. Put a certain number of frogs of one color in one group, and frogs of another color in another group, then make a big deal of puuusshing them together to add.
Doing addition activities with dominoes makes math feel like a game. To play, spread out all the dominoes face down, so you can't see the dots. Have a child pick a domino, count the dots on each side, and add the numbers. For example, if a domino shows 5 and 4, show how to add the two together to make 9. Then write this as a problem: 5+4=9. Now turn the domino around and have kids repeat the process to find and solve the new problem: 4+5=9.
To get points, children must write down both problems and the answer correctly. They will get points that equal the sum; for the 4+5 domino, a child will get 9 points.
NOTE: In first grade, children may not intuitively know that after turning the domino around they will get the same solution. If it looks different, they may have to count the dots all over again to find the answer. Addition activities like this one and Linking Cubes Addition (below) are important for helping kids master this concept.
Linking cubes are a great tool for showing addition problems two ways. Have kids pick some cubes of one color, and a few more of another color, and link them together. One cube and three cubes make 4; write the problem 1+3=4. Then turn the cubes around so it shows 3+1=4, and write this problem as well. Kids can either use the cubes to make problems that are written down, or they can make their own sums with the cubes and then do the writing afterwards. The important thing is to give them plenty of practice seeing the inverse relationship of adding: that 2+4 is the same as 4+2, etc.
This is one of the easiest addition activities to teach, since most kids will already know how to play Concentration, or Memory. Get two sets of index cards, each in a different color. Write the addition facts you want your child to practice on one color, and the answers on the other. Mix them up, turn them face down, and have the child pick a card of each color. If the problem and the answer match, she keeps the cards and goes again. The player with the most cards at the end wins. (This is a good adult-child game, as the memory aspect makes either player just as likely to win.)
These addition activities will get kids started on addition basics. To learn more about teaching addition facts, visit the addition facts page. Want some practice worksheets? Don't miss these free, printable first grade math activities developed by a 20-year math educator. Once children have worked enough with addition activities to feel a bit more confident with their skills, try out the slightly more challenging addition games for even more practice.