With enough rote practice, most students can learn to “carry the one” or “exchange/trade ten” to solve multi-digit addition and subtraction problems. But to truly understand the process and become fluent with it, students need to take a look under the hood and see the place value principles at work behind the operations. That’s why at Happy Numbers we focus on why the standard algorithm works, rather than how it works. We believe that by building understanding first, fluency will follow (and not vice versa). As a result, students are better able to find and correct errors and they are better-equipped to work with larger numbers and even decimals.
This post will share some of the activities we suggest for building deep conceptual understanding of column addition and subtraction. We’ll also explain how we scaffold instruction to help students create meaning, rather than just memorize steps. All of the activities shown are available at Happy Numbers, but you can re-create them in your classroom offline as well…

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Happy Numbers is bringing a breath of fresh air to your math instruction with unique spatial thinking puzzles! Get your students thinking outside of the box with this FREE 9-page download.

Challenge your students with exercises that:

– Promote spatial/logical thinking
– Engage gifted students and early finishers
– Make a great low-prep independent center

We hope Strings of Beads will brighten your week ☺

Happy spring teaching!

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Two great reasons to use shopping-based exercises throughout your math instruction: students investigate concepts thoroughly by applying skills to a new situation, and the math itself is what piques student interest (rather than a separate, unrelated reward). We’ll show you how we scaffold this approach across a range of skill levels and how your students can benefit from shopping activities online or off!

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Students learning to add and subtract 2-digit numbers must rely on a solid foundation of place value understanding. Few resources emphasize place value as well as the hundred chart. It allows for more advanced 2-digit operations, which can become cumbersome with manipulatives such as base-10 blocks. Adding this tool to your shed will give you one more way to reach learners in your class — we’ll show you how…

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Research shows that using multiple representations of an idea is a powerful approach to promote deeper mathematical thinking and conceptual understanding for your students. We recently blogged about the teaching potential of base-10 blocks and of the number line. Now, we would like to share with you the power of the hundred chart and how you can use it to create meaning with your students…

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In an effort to meet our goals of building conceptual understanding, we at Happy Numbers look for ways to provide students with multiple representations of mathematical ideas. One often-overlooked representation of equations is the pan balance. Like other tools we’ve written about in our blog – real objects, base-10 blocks, number line – the pan balance is a great concrete visual that helps primary students “see behind the veil” of complex math problems.
Wondering how? Then keep reading!

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Ring in the New Year with a fresh twist on some tried-and-true math skills. We’re wishing you a Happy 2015 with this FREE set of engaging winter-themed math puzzles.

Put these 15 pages to work as:

– A guided or independent center activity
– A challenge for students who finish work early
– A quick filler for those in-between times

Stretch your students’ ability with some think-outside-the-box challenges! To encourage critical thinking, we’ve dusted off some geometry and number sense skills that are fun to explore no matter what unit you’re teaching…

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