Teaching addition can be a whole lot of fun for teachers and kids both, but there’s no question the same old activities can get stale after a while. Looking for creative ways to teach addition to your young students that will make your math centers a blast?
The Teach Starter teachers put our heads together to come up with some of our very favorite addition activities from our years in the classroom. Bonus: They’re all hands-on math activities!
Explore hundreds of addition strategies resources, created by teachers!
Addition Activities for Kids
1. Addition Card Game
Using a deck of cards, this addition activity can be played with 2 to 4 players, making it perfect for small groups. Each player picks up two cards. They then need to add the two numbers together and provide the answer. If they get it right, they get to keep the cards. If they don’t, they have to put their cards back at the bottom of the pile. Play continues to the right. The student with the most cards at the end wins!
2. Use Addition Flashcards
Print and laminate these cute owl addition flashcards for a number of games and activities. Have students play snap or memory or simply match up the number algorithm to its answer card.
Need more pre-designed flashcards? Check out our teacher team’s favorite flashcards!
3. Play Adding Jenga
Using wood blocks, write simple addition problems on sticky labels and stick a variety to the end of each block. This addition game is played just like Jenga, with a small twist! The students must come up with the correct answer to the addition problem before they can attempt to remove the block.
4. Ladybug Addition Activity
Print this ladybug addition and subtraction template, and cut out the black dots and number cards for a great addition activity played with dice. Students can roll two dice or pick two number cards to create a number sentence.
They then place the black dots on the ladybug to show the answer to the addition number sentence.
Don’t want to always have dice flying across the classroom? Try the digital dice roller!
5. Use Beads and Cards for Adding
This addition activity can be varied to suit the resources you have available to you. We used a deck of cards, but you could also use two dice depending on the skill level of your students.
In the activity, students pull two cards from a deck of cards. They then thread the beads onto the pipe cleaner to show the two numbers. The students then have concrete objects to count to figure out the answer to the number sentence.
6. Make a Coat Hanger and Clothespins Addition Machine
This is another great hands-on activity to reinforce the concept of addition. Have students roll two dice and then place the clothespins on the coat hanger to show the two numbers rolled. This provides them with concrete materials to then count the total.
7. Create a Shoe Box Addition Machine
Create an addition machine using a shoe box and two cups with the bottoms cut out. Students roll two dice and then use the machine to figure out the answer by putting balls/counters through the cups to add the two numbers together.
8. Put Together Polygon Puzzles — Addition Style
The aim of the game is for students to put the Polygon Puzzle back together by looking at the addition question and then placing the answer next to it.
Print the polygon puzzle template pages (there are seven in all!) and laminate them so they can be used over and over again. Then print out the puzzle pieces and cut and laminate them also. The aim of the game is for students to put the polygon puzzle back together by looking at the addition question and then placing the answer next to it.
9. Play Addition Catch
Using a beach ball, write simple addition number sentences on the ball. Students throw the ball to each other and pick a number sentence close to one of their hands to answer. As a fun alternative, play a class game of catch, time how long it takes for every student to catch and answer a problem.