Teach Basic Adding for Mastery and Fun – Make It Stick in the Memory!

Teacher and Parent Tips

Adding Two Numbers – jppi

One of the roadblocks to students learning math is the need to memorize basic addition facts. Success in this one skill will help a student throughout the school career.

Addition facts need to be taught quite thoroughly, enabling other math skills to be learned easily. This can be done by having fun with games while unconsciously learning, memory tricks, memorizing doubles and neighbors of doubles, using jingles and math rhymes, and developing the concept of order. Establishing a firm understanding of addition affects all future math learning and attitudes. Therefore it is vital to invest time and energy, and yes, fun, into the mastery of addition facts.

Have Fun With Math Games

Play games which involve numbers to allow for the child to unconsciously learn addition facts.

Make Ten can be played with ten of anything, as per items listed above. Put them in two groups, then play at various levels depending on where the child is in skills. Ideas include: identifying the two numbers and saying, “makes ten” at the end of the sentence. If the child, or adult playing with them, forgets to say “makes ten” at the end of each equation they can lose a point or turn. A higher level would be to cover one of the groups which make ten, and issue the challenge, “What do you need to make ten? What is the hidden number?” The child responds but is told to “Say the whole thing.” For example, if the covered amount is four, the child says “6 + 4 makes ten!”

Use Math Memory Tricks

+ 0 – grape problems: Say, “Eat the grape, write the other number!”

+ 1 – next guy problems: Say, “Write the next guy!” (meaning the next number)

(At first these are said aloud, but later just remind the child, “What kind of problem is this?”) The goal is to get to the point that they think for a moment, then process the answer without additional talking.

Memorize Addition Doubles

Use 2 or 3 spare minutes to enjoy Twin Time. Have fun saying the doubles for a month or two. Time spent doing oral and verbalizing, cheerleading, etc. makes it worth it since once known, these basic fact skills stick in the memory.

Neighbors of the Doubles

Have a Good Neighbor Day each week, whether at home or school. Work with a partner. The first one recites a double (like 3 + 3 = 6). The partner responds with a “neighbor of the double” like 3 + 4 = 7. This is best if done using visual and verbal at first, although later you can do it only orally or only visually. You can also make index cards to show these pairs and lay them all out on a table to match up.

Use Math Jingles and Fun Rhymes

Try these, and soon both students and teachers will naturally start generating their own. These are fun to do while waiting in line or in other oft wasted moments here and there. Interchange use if the terms “=” and “is” in order the plant the idea that is means equals for later use in story problems.

  • 4 + 4 = 8 We sure don’t want to be late!
  • 2 + 2 = 4 We all can do some more!
  • 7 + 2 is 9 We did that one just fine!
  • 3 + 4 is 7 Makes you feel like heaven!

Develop the Concept of Order in Addition

A full understanding of the concept of order early in the process of learning addition can cut the total work in half!

First, use real objects like raisins or manipulatives, along with two trays or plastic plates. Put 3 on one tray and 4 on the other. Say the resulting face (say the whole thing 3 + 4 = 7). Then trade the trays and say it the other way: 4 + 3 = 7. Do this playfully enough times to allow it to become embedded in the memory.

Next start using the word sum. Start saying the math sentences like this, “If you add 3 + 4, the sum is 7.” This uses a language approach to teaching that the answer of an addition problem is a sum.

Any time is a good time to master addition facts: in the car, kitchen, park, etc. Grab those moments to enjoy playing with math facts in order to empower your child in learning elementary math skills!

Copyright Hildra Tague.
First published at Suite101.com.
Contact the author to obtain permission for republication.


About grantutor

Career educator in both public and private schools. Has tutored all ages. Writes about education, parenting, & seniors. Sings harmony with folk/rock group and a choir. Caregiver for spouse who dealt with Stage IV cancer. Happy person committed to nature and conservation of a green world.
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4 Responses to Teach Basic Adding for Mastery and Fun – Make It Stick in the Memory!

  1. Pingback: "Glue on her fingers, dirt on her toes, she makes laughter wherever she goes!" » Blog Archive » How to Memorize Addition ~ Teaching Doubles

  2. Pingback: Sound Bytes to Help Students Master Times Tables – Multiplication Rhymes | Hildra Tague's Celebrations of Learning Blog

  3. Pingback: Of These My Children: Telling Nice Lies | Hildra Tague's Celebrations of Learning Blog

  4. Pingback: Help Kids Memorize Math Facts by Teaching Basic Subtraction for Mastery and Fun | Hildra Tague's Celebrations of Learning Blog

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