Addition Lesson Plans and Step-by-Step Instructions

As an elementary school teacher, you teach your students the fundamental math skills they will need to succeed in later grades. Addition is one the most basic skills, and you probably teach it in several different ways. No matter which grade you teach, there are some similarities in lesson plans, which allow for step-by-step instruction.

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Lesson Plans and Teaching Addition Step-by-Step

Lesson Plan Fundamentals

There will obviously be differences in the ways you teach first graders and fifth graders. However, the fundamental lesson plan format can be the same. One of the most common formats is that designed by the educational theorist from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Madeline Hunter. The basic 7-step plan includes:

  1. Learning objective - This is what you expect students to learn in the lesson.
  2. Standards - Introduce what is expected from the students and what state standard this lesson will cover.
  3. Anticipatory set - Grab the students' attention and motivate the students to want to learn the objective.
  4. Teaching - Explain, model and demonstrate the lesson using a variety of methods, such as manipulatives, pictures and videos.
  5. Guided practice - Let students practice the lesson with your support by asking questions, having discussions and completing worksheets.
  6. Closure - Review the material learned and restate the major elements to help students internalize the new information.
  7. Independent practice - Assign homework that helps students to further understand what they learned.

Step-by-Step Addition

Not only is addition taught step-by-step in a single math period, it is also taught progressively throughout elementary school. After all, you can't expect first graders to add complex decimals, when they're just beginning to understand that 5 + 5 = 10.

Steps for Teaching Addition throughout Elementary School

Students learn that addition is putting parts together, combining one set of numbers with another.
First Grade
Students learn to add within 20, as well as the commutative and associative properties of addition. They also learn to add a 1-digit number or a multiple of ten to a 2-digit number (e.g., 2 + 10 = 12).
Second Grade
Students learn to effortlessly add 1-digit numbers, mentally add within 20 and - using place values and operations properties - add up to four 2-digit and add 3-digit numbers. They also learn to add within 1000 using tools such as manipulatives and pictures. Adding same-unit lengths is also covered in second grade.
Third Grade
Students recognize and explain patterns in the addition table. Adding within 1000 becomes fluent and students learn to add time intervals of minutes. They also use addition to calculate the perimeter of shapes.
Fourth Grade
Fractions are big in fourth grade and kids will learn to add fractions and mixed numbers with the same denominators.
Fifth Grade
Students take the next step in adding fractions by learning to add those that have different denominators. By fifth grade, students add multi-digit numbers and decimals to the hundredths place.

Step-by-Step Addition Instruction

Each new concept taught will have its own set of steps. Presented here, as an example, are the steps for adding 2- and 3-digit numbers.

  1. Review adding several 1-digits numbers in the vertical format, emphasizing that when the total is ten or greater you 'carry' the number to the top of the tens column. Then add the numbers in the tens column, which, at this point, is only the number that was carried.
  2. Review adding a 1-digit number to a 2-digit number in the vertical format, pointing out that when the units column is ten or greater you put the number from the tens place in the answer at the top of the tens column of the 2-digit number. Then you add those two numbers in the tens column and put the sum in the tens column of the answer.
  3. With two 2-digit numbers, show that you follow the same process as above. If the sum of the tens column is ten or greater, then you do the same thing as you did in step one, except that you are 'carrying' to the number to the hundreds column.
  4. Adding 3-digit numbers is just like adding 2-digit numbers except if you have a number to carry from adding the hundreds column, it goes to the top of the thousands column.
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