Number fact fluency is important to develop in the early grades. Without that automatic recall, the ability to move on to more complex skills in math is hampered. It is also crucial in developing a child’s confidence in using mathematics. Without a doubt, kids need to know their addition strategies!

When I tutor in math, poor fact fluency whether it be addition, subtraction or multiplication is the number one reason why kids come to me – they just don’t know their thinking strategies. They use their fingers and often still get the wrong answer!

To help improve their recall of the basic addition facts to twenty, I use the following addition strategies:

### Adding zero

Children need to understand that when zero is added to a number, the number remains the same.

### Counting on 1, 2 or 3

I introduce counting on one first then counting on two and finally counting on three. When kids understand how to count on each number I introduce counting on one, two and three combined.

To count on, have your kids start with the largest number from the equation and then count on 1, 2 or 3. It’s really important to emphasize that they need to start counting on from the largest number.

I always say, “Put the largest number in your head and count up.” It helps stop them from including the largest number when counting.

For example, you might find that when they answer 6 + 2 they start at 6 and that is the first number so that 6 + 2 becomes 7

**6 + 2 … 6, 7**

If you say put 6 in your head and count the next two numbers they get the right answer.

**6 + 2 … 6 7,8**

**6 + 2 = 8**

It’s also important that a child understands the commutative property when learning count ons. If they don’t, you’ll find that they count on from the first number in the equation regardless of whether it’s the largest. This won’t lead to fact fluency.

### Doubles

This is simply doubling a number – 1 + 1, 2 + 2, 3 + 3, etc. In the classroom, pictures are often used as a memory trigger.

### Near Doubles – Doubles + 1 more

Once the doubles are known it’s time to progress onto doubles plus one more. Doubles + 1 are easily identified because the numbers to be added (addends) lie side by side on the number line – 8 + 9 ( 8, 9 ).

### Near Doubles – Doubles + 2 more

Another addition strategy is doubles + 2. An equation is a doubles + 2 when the addends are either both odd or both even and are in order (or reverse order) e.g. 6 + 8, 8 + 6. Alternatively, when counting by ones, there is a number missing: 6,_,8 or 8,_,6

### Adding 10

Once children have become familiar with their teen numbers, adding ten becomes easy. Children become aware that 17 = 1 ten and 7 ones, therefore 10 + 7 = 17. Using a tens frame is another option.

### Adding 9

There are three addition strategies which children can use to help with adding nine.

### Adding 8

If children have a solid understanding of the addition strategies you may find that some children are able to use a ten to solve 8 + 4 and 8 + 5.

### Use the strategy that is the easiest

Many of the facts have more than one strategy. For example, 9 + 3 is both a count on and an adding 9 fact. As counting on is an easier strategy, this is the one that children should choose.

Once you have taught the mental math strategies for number facts to 20 only one fact has is not covered by a strategy: **7 + 4 = 11**

You can encourage kids to count on, use a ten or maybe this is the fact that they will memorize.

### Games and Activities help reinforce the addition strategies

Each time you teach an addition strategy you want to reinforce it with games and activities. I love setting up math rotations with group, partner, and individual activities. If your kids know their thinking strategies it will be easy for them to answer!

**Make a Path** is great to play independently.

I love **Find the Answer. **It’s the game I always take with me when I’m tutoring! It can be played independently or with a partner.

**Spin and Find the Answer** is a great partner game. But it can also be played by a single player.

**Four in a Row** is a popular game and this one has kids writing in the answer. It can also be used independently.

**Don’t Bump Me** combines the classic games – bump and noughts and crosses (tic-tac-toe). It’s definitely a partner game and heaps of fun!

### Grab a pack today

My addition pack contains all the above activities for each of the addition strategies mentioned.

Grab a pack of addition strategy activities from my Teachers Pay Teachers store and start improving your kid’s addition fact fluency.

## 3 Comments

## Subtraction Strategies are Important too! • Teaching Trove

July 17, 2017 at 2:31 am[…] The main strategy for teaching the subtraction facts is to have children relate them to known addition facts. Of course this means that the addition facts must be well known before attempting to teach the subtraction facts. If you would like to read more about teaching the addition strategies you can do that HERE. […]

## How to Make Addition Strategies Stick • Teaching Trove

October 23, 2017 at 3:25 am[…] I always have a sequenced approach to teaching the basic addition facts to twenty and I’ve written about how I teach the addition facts here. […]

## How to improve number fact fluency in your students • Teaching Trove

November 5, 2017 at 11:29 pm[…] frequent opportunities for students to practice applying their mental math strategies in a fun and motivating way, helps them develop fluency. Games are the perfect avenue to do […]