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Article Summary: "Any time you can make it more personal, creative, and challenging for students they will find not only can they add - they have the ability to apply addition to many situations."

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5 Fun Ways to Teach Addition: Interactive Connections

Although addition is a relatively easy math concept to learn, there are at least 5 fun ways to teach addition. They allow learning of addition to be more enjoyable for students, instead of completing the traditional mind numbing worksheets. Any time you can make it more personal, creative, and challenging for students they will find not only can they add - they have the ability to apply addition to many situations.

The first fun way is through the use of an online computer program that uses virtual manipulatives by Utah State University. Their website is http://nlvm.usu.edu and is designed to engage student critical thinking skills as they apply addition concepts. One of their virtual manipulative activities is called the Circle 21 puzzle. The goal of the puzzle is to place 3 numbers in a circle so the sum is 21. However there are 7 circles and each circle overlaps 2 other circles. So you have to consider how each number you add to a circle impacts the sum in an adjoining circle. This interactive activity teaches students problem solving skills and connections to real world situations.

Another fun way is by playing a board game, such as Yahtzee or Monopoly. Board games are one of the recommended tools for developing a deeper understanding of math concepts. Both of these two examples require addition and in most cases mental addition to play the games. Not only is playing board games fun, they are also a learning tool for arithmetic. Board games teach problem solving skills and connections to the real world.

Combining the use of food in addition problems is another fun strategy for learning basic math skills. Skittles are always good because they come in a variety of colors, so do M&Ms. Another consideration is to use healthy foods such as apples, grapes, orange slices, crackers, different types of cheeses, etc. These foods can be used as manipulatives to replace numbers in an addition problem. As students practice their addition skills, they get to eat their math. Problems can be connected to buying foods and other products, so students can use their problem solving skills and make connections to real world situations and choices when buying food.

A fourth fun way to learn addition is by using paint by numbers kits. Students get to paint each numbered part of a picture when they solve an associated addition math problem. This teaches students not only the how to solve addition problems; it also teaches them how to use critical thinking and problem solving skills as they use the paint by number set to learn addition. This type of fun activity teaches them how to problem solve as they hone their addition skills and make connections to situations in the world outside their classroom.

A fifth way is to have a simulated store in the classroom that sells various products, the use of empty containers and plastic foods to allow the store to be used more than once. The store has only one way that students can purchase the items, the total must add to a certain number or fall within a certain number range to purchase the products. This creates a problem solving situation in which students must have a sound understanding of addition as it relates to other math concepts. These include connections with subtraction, division, and multiplication. And additional challenge can be the inclusion of sales tax. Not only are students learn their addition facts, they are making connections to real world situations.

One common thread that runs through all of these fun activities is the fact they use of virtual or real manipulatives to actively engage students in the leaning process.