When it’s time for students to start to add and subtract in elementary, it can seem like a daunting task. However, introducing addition and subtraction in elementary doesn’t have to be hard! All you need to do is make it fun with these three fun games you can play with your students!
Introducing Addition and Subtraction with the Hand Game
To play the hand game, each student needs his/her own collection of counters like mini erasers or other math junk. Have students sit in a circle. The teacher tells the students to take four erasers and put three in one hand and one in the other. Then, demonstrate that when it’s your turn, you open your hands one at a time and tell the group how many mini erasers you see. So, to demonstrate, the teacher opens one hand and says “three,” and then opens the other hand and says “one.”
Have students practicing this motion a few times or for about 30 seconds. Students will say either three and one or one and tree. After students have practiced, go around the circle open their hands one at a time and not talk. The rest of the class has the job of saying what is in each hand. This helps the class focus on the number of objects in the hands which helps them with number sense and helps introducing addition and subtraction in elementary.
After practicing with the same number, let students decide how many of each eraser goes in each hand keeping the whole number, in this case the number four, the same. Then repeat the process of going around the circle having students open their hands.
Play Lift the Bowl
To introduce addition and subtraction with this game, each student needs a bowl and four blocks. Students start by putting four blocks under the bowl. next, have students take one block out and put it on top of the bowl. Demonstrate the process of this game by saying I have one block on top of the bowl, and I have three blocks underneath the bowl. Have students listen and repeat this process. Just like with The Hand Game, have students practice this. Then let them choose how many blocks to put on top of and under the bowl.
This game helps with introducing addition and subtraction in elementary because it shows students there are multiple ways to equal up to one number.
Introduce Subtraction and Addition with The Wall Game
This game that helps with introducing addition and subtraction is super easy. All you need are students to stand up and a block for each student. have student line up their blocks in a row going way from them with at least one inch between each block. Then, teach students to “wall off.”
For example, “wall off” three means that students count out three blocks and put the hand down as a wall. Behind their block, they say “three” then peek behind the wall and say “one.” You can try this method a few times and then choose a student to be the “teacher.” That student gets to call “wall off” to whatever number they say. So, if they say “wall off 1,” the students will wall off one. Then the teacher says, “Peek.” The students then say “and three.” After the students get used to this, the “teacher” can vary up the number.
All three of these games for introducing addition and subtraction are simple to play which makes them great for elementary students starting in grade one and beyond. Once students learn the structure of each game, you can get them to use harder numbers. You can also start using harder numbers, like doubles, if students find the games too easy.