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Hands-On Addition Activities for the Classroom

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Photo of Holly (Teach Starter)
Updated | 3 min read

Simple, hands-on addition activities are the perfect addition (excuse the pun) to any early years classroom. Not only are they lots of fun, they are critical in helping young learners understand the foundation of mathematics.

My hot tips? Don’t reinvent the wheel! Use hands-on activities recommended to you and spend your time getting organised for your classroom. Have a selection of hands-on activities stored away.

You can use some cheap storage containers to store each activity.

Then, at the beginning of the day, you will have a selection of activities that you can just grab and use.  Not only will this save you precious time but it will be the perfect warm-up, consolidation activity or a time-filler with purpose!

Not in the mood for reading?
Scroll to the bottom of this post to see these five addition activity ideas in action!

Here are five ideas that we think are must-haves in your collection of hands-on addition activities.

(1) Addition with Pegs

This is such a simple concept, but my students loved practicing their simple addition using coathangers and pegs.

Create a ‘shirt’ for the coathanger that has the addition symbol on it. Then using pegs on each side, students create simple addition sums to work out their totals.

You may like to use our simple addition flash cards with this activity.

Simple Hands-On Activity

(2) Finger Template Activity

Children using their fingers to count is always a heated discussion among teachers.

In my opinion, what’s the difference between using their fingers and using manipulatives such as, paddle pop sticks or blocks to help them work out mathematics equations? Which is why I absolutely love this idea… The perfect hands-on addition activity for students to keep and use again and again.

You may like to use our hands and numbers template to re-create this activity.

Hands-On Simple Addition Activity

(3) Lady Beetle Addition

This is a fun and simple addition activity that you can laminate to use again and again!

Simply download our Lady Beetle Adding Activity, store it away with two dice and you have an instant activity that I know your students will absolutely love!

You can use the number cards that come with the download or use regular dice.

Lady Beetle Simple Addition Template

(4) Addition and Fine Motor with Pom-Poms

Here’s another cheap and easy idea to store away in a container to use again and again.

Write simple addition equations in the bottom of patty cakes. Students then use tweezers to pick up the pompoms and put the correct number of pom-poms in each patty cake.

I have seen this used as a morning activity. As soon as your students come into the classroom, they have to work out four simple addition sums using the pompoms! A nice way to ease them into the school day.

(5) Count the Apples

Similar to the lady beetle activity, in this hands-on addition activity, students use two dice to create simple addition equations. They then need to use red apples for one dice and green apples for the other to work out how many apples altogether.

Download this awesome tree adding activity, print, laminate, cut and store in a container ready for quick access!

5 Simple Addition Activities Video

Keen to see these simple addition activities ideas in action? Here’s a video of how they all work:


Feeling creative and inspired? Why not try creating one of these gorgeous hands-on felt boards. It’s really simple and super cute! Check out our blog, The Best Hands-On Activity for Numbers to 10 to find out how to create this piece of gorgeousness!

Hands On Felt Board - Numbers to 10

Share your ideas… what is one of your favourite hands-on addition activities?


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