A Balancing Act: Working with Numbers

A few years ago, our school had a "math consultant" come and coach us in some "new" ways to teach math.  I must admit, that at first, I could not see the "value" in the work. My kids could count, add, etc. We were asked to incorporate some routines into our math time.  I kept it simple and added this.

What I found myself doing was talking about number in a different way.  I know longer told kids that twelve is a 1 and a 2.  I now say, it's one ten and 2 ones.  And guess what?! Many of the kids get it because of that little gem.  We visually see the number!

Well, this leads me to this week's math focus...addition.  In our math book, it is introduced as pictures stories. But, what I really find is that the kids just count the items.  So, I decided to try something different.

A few weeks ago, I read this blog post and it got me thinking. How do I teach this?  Well, I challenged myself to find out just what do my kids really know about number with this.

I set up the thinking by talking about balance.  I even modeled being imbalanced.  Then,  I told the kids that I wanted to challenge their thinking about what they know about number.

And, guess what!  They do know a lot!

We discovered that there are many ways to make both sides equal.

In the coming days and weeks, we will continue to use this but I will add numbers.  For now, I am happy that they are exploring how numbers work.  This will be one of our math work stations next week.

How do you teach beginning addition?  Do you have any great book picks? Please share.

Happy Teaching and Learning!


  1. Great post! I can see that students would really benefit from have the tens frame as part of the calendar routine. We have to use some of our Math series, but I love all of the Math Their Way activities that have children explore the number like you did with cubes. Finding out the different ways you can create a 4 through manipulatives. I also like to use a grid with 2 boxes at the top and a larger one at the bottom. I have heard you can use those adorable ZooPals plates too!

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Love your calendar board and the great addition idea! I'm always looking for more ways to help my kinders with addition and subtraction. Thanks for sharing!

    Growing Up Teaching

  3. Great post!!! Thanks for giving the shout-out--I'm glad you thought about it! :D Sounds like your kids are in good shape. Their future teachers will greatly appreciate the fine job you are doing educating them and ensuring that they have a deepened understanding of concepts. Thanks for your hard work and for sharing your success!

    Do you ever use the Stuart J. Murphy math literature books? I love to use them with my 4th graders. He covers so many concepts with all of his books and they are all so fun to read!


  4. I love that visual (the balance). I have students who would really benefit from this, even though they are older. Your math board looks sensational!! Kristen

  5. Great post! Number sense is so valuable!!
    First Grade Blue SKies

  6. I love this! My team and I were just talking about introducing this concept to our students (balance), and this would be such a great way to show them!
    Ms. A

  7. I love the idea of adding the ten frames to the calendar board! I tried to think of a way to introduce 10-frames early in the year and blanked.... Now I see it was so obvious! You can bet we will be talking about 10 frames from day one next year!

  8. I just LOVE this approach to teaching beginning addition. This makes it so clear to our kiddos exactly what addition is. Definitely going to use this in my class!

    The Littlest Scholars

  9. Would you be able to post your balance page?
    It looks terrific.

  10. Terry,
    I purchased this addition unit by From the Pond on TPT. She is fabulous. Please visit her site.


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