Double-Digit Addition Mental Math Strategies

Wednesday, October 7, 2015
As teachers, we are all guilty of teaching math in a procedural way - I know I am! So, how can we teach math in a more exploratory way that builds mental math skills? Last year I changed the way I teach double-digit addition with my second graders and I'll never go back to the standard algorithm. I'm finding that my second graders that I taught last year have stronger mental math strategies than my 5th graders, so to start this year, we're going backwards and that's okay! Why teach multiplying and dividing fractions and decimals when they are still struggling with the WHY of regrouping and place value?!?

Here are a few strategies I use to help build mental math skills that gives students a true understanding of place value and regrouping.

First, I pose a problems for the students on a white board with manipulatives they can use if they choose.


Here is a picture of popsicle sticks that I put into bundles using hair ties - rubber bands always seem to break. Some popsicle sticks are singles as well. For this problem, students take out 28 popsicle sticks and take out 64 more. Then the students will be able to add them together. Eventually students will bundle the new groups of 10 as well instead of counting all the ones.


When students are moving past the stage of manipulatives, they can begin conceptualizing the numbers through jumping or splitting. Here is an example of a student splitting. He understands place value enough to split the numbers and add them together. This builds mental math strategies!


Finally this strategy easily transfers into triple digit addition problems.


Here are just a few tips on how to start building mental math strategies in the classroom!

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