Teaching addition facts

Beyond using manipulatives for counting, there are 2 main approaches to teaching and memorizing addition facts, by the addends or by the sums.  Both approaches have advantages, but usually one approach works better for each individual student.

Using the addend approach, facts are presented by adding gradually increasing numbers.  First, add 1 to each numeral 1 to 19.  Then add 2 to each numeral.  Then add 3 and so on.  Teaching students to add 10 is often easy and fun and can be helpful in teaching students to add 9, because students often can catch on quickly that if you add 10, then give the number before that answer, you have added 9.  For example:  3+10=13, 3+9= 3+10-1 =12.

Using the sum approach, students learn addition facts in "families" and are taught the additive inverse property (which I often call "twins") so that only half of the facts are needed to be learned.  The sum approach also helps students visually see relationships between addition and subtraction when presented in list form, making a smoother transition to subtraction.  Connections are also able to be made to multiplication.

Materials both in curricula and in supplementary resources use one or the other approach.  Knowing the approach you plan to use can help in selecting materials more wisely or in making your own activities and worksheets.

Students who have a strong sense of numeration, will often become excited to discover both approaches and the number relationships they reveal!


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