Josiah has been dabbling with addition for several weeks now with his 10 finger addition. Basically he wasn’t doing anything any higher than five plus five and it was all verbal.

Two weeks ago he officially started learning addition. In order to give the numbers meaning and avoid teaching him “math facts” that he was to memorize, I came up with a few different hands-on “games” or activities for him to learn addition.

One of the first things I did was show him the signs for plus and equals. This was slightly confusing because he was trying to figure out why the plus sign looked the same as a lower case t. I showed him the relationship between the written problem and what he was saying.

We used Popsicle sticks to create the plus and equals sign and then used counters (poker chips) to show various math problems. This really helped Josiah see the problem as two quantities being combined, not just two abstract numbers being put together in a strange way. He really enjoyed doing this and it seemed to make the math fun for him.

I also come up with a little math game (well…he sees it as a game). On a piece of paper I wrote an empty math problem (__ + ___ =___). Then I printed off a worksheet that had several of these same empty math problems and I put it in a sheet protector so he could write on it in dry erase. Josiah had to roll a die and put it in the first number slot. Then he rolled another die and put it in the second slot. He had to add up the two dice and answer the problem. Once he solved the problem he wrote it down on the worksheet. Not only is he practicing addition and coming up with random problems to solve, he’s also practicing writing his numbers and seeing how a basic addition problem is set up.

The simple fact that he’s using dice to do math is what makes it a game to him. He thinks he’s playing some version of Yatzee. The great thing is that this will work with subtraction too. Of course once he starts doing double-digit math I’ll have to revise my game a little bit.

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