27 Easy Prep Activities to Teach Addition


Addition… it is a skill that your students learn for what seems like ages. How do you continue to have them practice addition fluency while keeping their interest? There are so many great activities out there that you can prep for your students to have them practice this integral math skill while not getting bored. And even better, these activities are quick and easy prep, so you don’t have to spend hours after school putting them together. Grab your favorites from this list of 27 easy prep addition activities. My students would tell you that #25 is a must-have in your classroom.

Easy Prep Addition Activities with Cubes

1 – Cube Towers

Grab two ten wands of connecting cubes (two colors work best) and your students can model addition problems by creating towers on each square. These mats can be printed in color, or black and white. Use in a small group center, or as an individual center if you still are unable to share materials.

2 – Partner “Break It”

Give each of your students a ten wand of cubes, whiteboard, and marker, and have them pair up with another student that has a different color than them. Students will sit knee to knee and place their cube wand behind their back. When you say “break it”, students will break the wand behind their backs and bring forward one of the two parts. They connect their part with the part of their partner and then write an addition equation to match their model.

3 – Scoop and Add

Dump a bunch of two different colored cubes into a large bin. Using ladles or deep spoons, your students will scoop out some cubes. Then sort them into their two different color groups. Once sorted, they will write an addition sentence to match the sets and find the sum. After they have recorded and solved, they put those cubes back into the bin and repeat.

4 – Doubles with Cubes

Snap cubes are an easy manipulative to use when learning how to add doubles. Using a die, roll a number and snap together that many cubes. Then using cubes in a different color, snap together another set to place side-by-side with the first set made. Count the total number of cubes to find the doubles sum.

5 – Adding “Ice Cubes”

Create a mat that has two glasses with the addition symbol in between them and then an equals sign and blank line to complete the equation. (? + ? = ___) Your students can roll a die, flip a card, or choose their own number for each glass, placing an “ice cube” into the glasses to model that number. Then they will add the ice cubes together to find the sum.

Double-Sided Counters Activities

6 – Ways to Make (Any Number)

Using small cups, place a set number of counters into each cup and give one to each of your students. Also, make sure that your students have a recording sheet. They will shake up their cup and dump it out. Coloring in the circles on the recording sheet, they will model the addition problem and then solve it. To take the activity a step further, come back as a class and list out all of the ways they were able to make the given number.

7 – Number Bonds with Counters

It is easy for students to use counters when working with number bonds. They grab a handful of counters and drop them onto their desk or work mat. Separate out those that are yellow side face-up into one part of the number bond and those that are red side face-up into the other part of the number bond. Begin to write the addition equation and then push both parts into the top portion of the number bond to find the sum.

8 – Modeling the Commutative Property

Double-sided counters are a good manipulative to use when teaching your students the commutative property. Have them first model an addition problem (ex. 6+3 = 9, using yellow to represent 6 and red to represent 3). Then have them flip all of the yellows to red and the reds to yellow. Following the same pattern of writing the number represented by yellow first, the problem is now 3+6 = 9.

You can use this in a center, but I recommend color-coding the work mats so that your students make sure to start with either the number of yellow or red counters every time. ?

9 – Ten Frame Counters

These manipulatives fit nicely in ten frames. Anytime I use ten frames, I am almost always putting double-sided counters in them. Students can easily model addition problems by using the two different colors to represent each addend in the equation. With this Doubles + 1 activity shown here, you can have your students model using two groups of the same color. (Ex. two groups of 3 yellow counters, which would be 3+3. Then add one red counter to one of the groups, making the new addition equation 3+4.) There are so many easy prep addition activities you can do with ten frames as well.


Addition Activities with Pattern Blocks

10 – Build and Add

Your students can practice identifying and building numbers while honing their addition skills with Build and Add activities. Using pattern blocks, build a number and then count how many of each shape you used. Add up all of those numbers and find the total number of pattern blocks used. You can also do this with images as well.

11 – Scoop, Sort, and Add

Similar to the cubes activity above, this easy prep addition activity can be done with adding 3 numbers together. Put three different types of pattern blocks into a bin. (ex. squares, triangles, and hexagons). I use old-school salad tongs in the bin for my students to scoop. This also strengthens their fine motor skills.

12 – Pattern Block Picture Addition

Have your students create a picture (house, sun, flower, etc.) using a pattern block picture card. They then count how many of each shape they used in the picture and add them up. This is a great way to practice multiple addition problems. They start with two addends, or three depending on their level. Once they solve that addition problem, they add another number to the total and continue until they’ve added the numbers of all of the shapes used.

Easy Prep Activities with Dice

13 – Plus 1 and Plus 2 Equations

Dice are a really easy manipulative to use when working on addition. Your students can roll a number on a die and place it next to a +1 or +2 to work on those facts. Extend this activity by having your students complete +10 facts using this format.

14 – Roll to 100 or 120

Using a 100 chart, your students start by rolling two dice and adding those two numbers together. They color in the sum of those numbers on their 100 chart. After that, they will roll one die, adding that number to the sum just colored to create a new sum to color. To differentiate for your higher students, you can use a 10-sided die and add the number rolled to the previous sum.

15 – Roll and Add

This is a quick and simple no prep activity for you. Put two dice and a recording sheet in the center for your students. They roll the two dice and add the numbers together to get the sum. Use a variety of different-sided dice to mix up this activity and you can use the center for multiple weeks while your students are practicing their addition fact fluency.

16 – Play Four in a Row

This activity can be played with a partner. Roll two dice and add them together. Then daub or color in the sum. The first player to get four sums in a row wins the game. You can easily put this activity into a page protector with two different dry erase markers and students can play during centers, or as an early finisher activity.

17 – Roll to Solve

Instead of rolling two dice and adding them together, you roll a die to figure out which column you are going to have to solve an addition equation in. This is a great activity to give to your early finishers. They just grab a paper and a die and work quietly while waiting for their classmates to finish. Use many of these easy prep addition activities to keep your students working while others complete their work.

Using Spinners in Addition Activities

18 – Two Digit + 1 Spinners

You can easily create a spinner by placing a paperclip on the end of a pencil and spinning it. This easy two-digit plus one worksheet allows your students to spin to create a two-digit number and then add one to it before daubing with a BINGO dauber. It is also an easy game that can be played with a partner.

19 – Spin, Roll, and Add with Two-Digit Numbers

This activity combines a spinner and a ten-sided die. First, you spin two spinners with a pencil and paperclip to create the first two-digit number. Then you roll the ten-sided die and add that to the number you spun in order to find the sum to your addition equation.

20 – Spin and Model

Using any manipulative of their choice, students can spin a spinner and count out that number of objects into one pile. Then spin the spinner again and count out another set of objects. Add these two sets of numbers together to find the sum for the equation. I find it fun to use this activity in a center and theme it with little erasers. So right now, we are using apple and leaf erasers to sort and add.

Domino Activities

21 – Modeling Addition Problems with Dominoes

Dominoes are a great manipulative to use when working on addition facts. They easily separate the numbers into two different sets so your students can identify the two factors and find the sum. You can use activities where numbers are already written on the printed dominoes, but my favorite is to give my students dominoes and have them choose the ones they want to model and solve.

22 – Using Dominoes to Show the Commutative Property

To help your students understand the commutative property of addition, use dominoes. Grab a domino from the pile and lay it flat. Write the equation using the numbers represented on the domino. Then flip it around and write the new equation your domino is modeling. It is an easy way for your students to visually see the commutative property while taking it to abstract thinking.

Other Easy Prep Addition Activities

23 – Addition Games with Playing Cards

Playing cards are lots of fun and a great way for your students to practice addition while working with their classmates. Take a deck of cards and separate them into two piles. Each student flips over a card and the first one to add them together gets to keep both cards. The student who collects all or most of the cards wins the game. You can also just have them flip the cards over and add them together as a team.

24 – Word Problems for Addition

Instead of just handing out word problem worksheets, incorporate your students into group word problems. Give each of your students a whiteboard or blank sheet of paper and then start talking through word problems. Use your students’ names and everyday situations. For example… “Jose went to Target and bought 5 Hot Wheels cars. Terrence was also at Target and bought 7 Hot Wheels cars. How many cars did the boys buy together?”. You can also ask your students to add in parts of the story problem while you are talking through it.  For

25 – Life-Size Number Line

This is a great center activity! Place this center in a part of your classroom where you have some room on the floor. Using painter’s or masking tape, create a number line on the floor. Students can physically “jump” their addition problems on the floor and then record their jumps on a number line recording sheet for the center.

Addition with Snacks

26 – Cereal Bowl Addition

Snacks always pique the interest of students and when your math block falls at the end of the day, it helps to keep them from getting “hangry”. For this particular activity, draw two “cereal bowls” on a piece of construction paper. Then using Fruit Loops, Cheerios, Kix, or some other kind of cereal, your students can model addition problems by placing the cereal in each bowl and then adding them together to find the sum. They can roll a die, or flip over cards to identify how many pieces of cereal they will put in each bowl. (To keep everyone safe from germs, you can scoop a set amount of cereal into small Dixie cups, or snack bags.)

27 – Addition in the Goldfish Pond

Another one of the fun easy prep addition activities. Use goldfish snack crackers and draw two “ponds” onto a piece of paper to use as a work mat. Students will count out a set number of fish to put into each pond and then add them together to find the sum. This snack option is one I like to use when we are working on whole group story problems. Every student gets a bag of goldfish and we go “fishing” while solving addition word problems.

There are so many fun ways your students can practice addition problems. By mixing things up, your students won’t get bored while building their addition fact fluency. These 27 ideas are easy to prep addition activities that you can put in your centers tomorrow. Just grab the needed manipulative and print out the recording sheets. Your students get all of the addition practice they need, while you get to take back some center prep time for yourself. What other easy prep addition activities do you use in your classroom? Let’s see if we can get this list to 40 different activities!

Written by – Janessa Fletcher

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