Understanding addition is one of the most important math concepts in the early years. Addition helps kids master the relationships between numbers by laying the groundwork for number sense. Kids may struggle with basic math abilities such as addition and subtraction because they have difficulty focusing or learning them readily. So, how do we teach kids to add? There have been numerous modern and interesting ways to teach addition to kids in recent years, and the approaches are always evolving. These addition strategies are simple to grasp and enable the development of fluency and a stronger number sense.1 Remember, there are a variety of fun methods to approach math.

When do Kids Learn to Add?

Learning to add and subtract does not happen all at once, but rather in small steps between kindergarten and fourth grade. Counting for addition is a skill that many kids learn in daycare or preschool.

What are Kids Taught to Add According to Their Grades?

  • Kindergarten: Learning to count forward and backward, beginning and ending with zero. Kids learn to add single digits and compare values to find differences.
  • First Grade: Adding single digit and double digit numbers.
  • Second and Third Grades: Learning to do more complicated addition, regrouping, and adding multi-digit numbers through visual descriptions.
  • Fourth grade: Learning to add multi-digit numbers without visual cues.

By fourth grade, kids are familiar with the various forms of addition and subtraction required for higher grades.1,4 In order to help kids solidify their math abilities by improving their addition strategies, you should definitely take a look at these fun methods for teaching them addition.

What are the Fun Ways to Teach Addition to Kids in Kindergarten?

  • Counters and Math Manipulatives: Younger kids are surrounded by counters almost everywhere! Be it Lego® pieces, fingers on their hands, apple slices in their tiffin, or toys in their rooms, kids can easily come across things that will help them understand the basics of addition. Math manipulatives are a great way of teaching addition to kids. There are countable manipulatives as well to enhance the understanding of addition. Kids can form small groups, join the groups, and count the total members to understand number bonds.
  • Visualization: How about using dry beans for counting or the number of vehicles that you saw while going to school? Kids tend to have a sharp sense of visualization and they remember what they have seen for a long time. They understand how addition works when they observe things around them.
  • Ten Frames: Another fun way to teach addition to elementary kids. Ten frames are ideal for developing number sense. A ten frame is a rectangular set with ten equal spaces in it. The ten frames can be used with counters and math manipulatives to represent numbers less than or equal to ten. This strategy is helpful for the kids as it allows them to visualize numbers. As a result, it’s a stepping stone for kids to learn about addition. Kids can practice basic addition equations with these ten frames.
  • Addition Songs: Kindergarten kids love fun activities, and what better way to learn about addition than through some enjoyable addition songs? These songs generally teach kids about math skills and strategies. They are easy to memorize and the kids can participate physically while singing these songs. It provides a wholesome environment for the kids to sing and dance while learning addition.
Teach addition in effective ways and help students to love math
Addition is one of the most basic operations in math that children need to learn.

Fun Ways to Teach Addition to Kids in Elementary School

  • Number Lines: These are fun tools for teaching addition because kids can begin from the biggest number and count forward. For first graders, the number lines are usually labeled and closed. Open number lines are introduced in second and third grade as kids become more familiar with number lines. Although open number lines may be difficult at first, kids will be able to use them successfully if they have a strong understanding of place value.
  • Zero Value: Have you tried adding zero to any number? Anything added to zero results in the same number itself! Funny, isn’t it? You can practice this with single and double-digit numbers to boost confidence.
  • Creating the 10: This is a smart trick for kids to add numbers in their heads. The number “10” is favored by everyone. Why? Because it seems easy, right? Similarly, finding the 10 in your addition will make your math equation easier while sharpening your mental skills. Rather than adding two numbers together, kids should be encouraged to add the numbers up to 10, and then the remainder will be added to that 10. For example, the method for 7 + 6 will be, 7 + 3 = 10, we need to add the remaining 3 (from the number 6) to the total, so that becomes, 10 + 3 = 13. Math manipulatives and number modeling are excellent ways of teaching this technique to kids.
  • Math Board Games: There are various math board games for kids to play while learning the math concepts like addition. Along with board games, there are online games as well for kids where they can explore different addition techniques. These games are mostly designed for kids to find motivation for math problems while having fun.
  • Flipping the Addends: In the second and third grades, kids learn about the commutative property for addition, and later on for multiplication. For kids to remember easily, the commutative property can be referred to as “turn-around facts.” This property teaches the kids that moving the addends doesn’t change the sum in addition. You can use blank spaces to represent the addends and display this property so that they can write the sum and its value.

Math can be found everywhere around us, even in our daily routines! All you need to do is to identify them. There are tons of fun math activities that you can carry out in your house as well. Counting money is one such activity that will not only bring in a sense of responsibility among kids but will help in having a clearer understanding of number sense as well.

These days, there are numerous online learning programs created with the purpose of teaching addition in a fun and interactive virtual environment. The best part is that you can take part in these online activities from any location! Byju’s FutureSchool has similar fun activities where you can learn more about math concepts in an interesting way. There are virtual games where you can improve your understanding of addition and subtraction while having fun. Aside from these, there is so much more, such as interesting blogs on various math concepts, famous mathematicians from around the world, and so on. To learn more about them, go to Byju’s FutureSchool Blog.


  1. Compatible Numbers for Third Grade Math. (n.d.). Retrieved June 27, 2022, from https://sciencing.com/compatible-numbers-third-grade-math-8349044.html 
  2. Strategies for Learning Math Facts. (n.d.). https://www.mcs4kids.com/documents%5Cmath%5Ck-6%5CMath%20Content%5CAddition%20and%20Subtraction%5CStrategies%20for%20Addition%20and%20Subtraction%5CStrategies%20for%20Facts%20-%20Addition%20and%20Subtraction.pdf
  1. How To Teach Addition And Subtraction For Kindergarten Kids In 10 Tricks. (n.d.). Retrieved July 1, 2022, from https://sg.theasianparent.com/how-to-teach-addition-and-subtraction-for-kindergarten 
  2. Addition and Subtraction: When Kids Learn | Understood. (n.d.). Retrieved July 1, 2022, from https://www.understood.org/en/articles/when-kids-learn-addition-subtraction 
  3. 5 Interesting Ways to Teach Addition to Your Kid. (n.d.). Retrieved July 1, 2022, from http://blog.appystore.in/child-development/5-interesting-ways-to-teach-addition-to-your-kid/ 
  1. How to Teach Addition: 9 Fun Methods Parents Should Try. (n.d.). Retrieved June 27, 2022, from https://mrsmyersrr.com/news/how-teach-addition-9-fun-methods-parents-should-try 
  2. How to teach addition to young children | Blog | Maths-Whizz. (n.d.). Retrieved June 27, 2022, from https://www.whizz.com/blog/whats-the-best-way-to-teach-addition-to-young-children/ 

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