Grade 1 Overview: Paving the Way to 100

Kindergarten students briefly touch on numbers beyond 20, and then in Grade 1 they expand their knowledge much farther to 100! First, they build fluency with addition and subtraction within 10 in exercises with and without visual models. Then they learn step-by-step how to add or subtract beyond 10, count by ten, and use numerical notation and number sequence to 100. Students explore comparing, the concept of round numbers, and addition based on number positions, which prepares them for Column Addition (the standard algorithm for addition) in Grade 2. Happy Numbers presents a wide range of visual models to help students reach these learning milestones. They complete exercises with familiar objects such as candies, then move to more abstract models such as the Number Line and Base-10 Blocks. The high-level tasks include numerical equations, in which students need to fill the gaps or find an answer.

In this overview, you will find the best pedagogy and important milestones from the Happy Numbers curriculum for Grade 1 students!

All exercises mentioned below are part of the Happy Numbers course for Grade 1. Visit to explore our full curriculum and sign up for a free trial.

Fluency within 10

Grade 1 begins with the review and consolidation of knowledge obtained by students in Kindergarten. ‘Sharing candies’ is a great exercise to build fluency with basic addition! Students model the equation with the help of the familiar lifestyle scenario using concrete objects such as candies. These are presented as manipulatives, which students can drag and move between plates. Tangible experience helps to build meaning behind the math facts, which will become a strong foundation before learning two-digit numbers and math operations with them.

Various exercises on matching the addends in equations with sums to 10 develop conceptual understanding of number formation and build fluency with basic addition.

image9(see Grade 1 Module 1 — Topic B: exercise w)

In Topic F of Module 1, students learn how to model the equation first on a model with real objects and Base-10 Blocks and then note it numerically.

The simultaneous use of models that have a different level of abstraction makes it possible to transition smoothly to higher math levels.

Students learn numerical notation of addition equations and identify a missing addend with the visual support of Base-10 Blocks. Happy Numbers uses color-coding to simplify the learning process.


(see Grade 1 Module 1 — Topic B: exercise k)

Students also build an addition scenario on the Number Line to consolidate knowledge and at the same time review the number sequence. First, they need only move the grasshopper along the line, and an equation will be noted by the software. Later, students will need to both model the addition or subtraction on the Number Line and find an answer.


Moving forward and backward on the Number Line will enable students to easily fill in the blanks in the equation.


(see Grade 1 Module 1 — Topic B: exercise x)

At the end of Module 1, students can record the math scenario showed on the visual model and solve it.


(see Grade 1 Module 1 — Topic I: exercise u)

Students make substantial progress towards fluency with addition and subtraction of numbers to 10 as they compose and decompose addends and total amounts.

Between 10 and 20

Happy Numbers introduces numbers beyond 10 using real objects as a sum of ten and ones without a plus sign at first.


(see Grade 1 Module 2 — Topic A: exercise d)

Then, students learn new numbers and their sequence on the vertical Number Line.


(see Grade 1 Module 2 — Topic A: exercise g)

Place value in two-digit numbers is shown using a model of Base-10 Blocks. Students grasp terms and their meaning through the clear visual example, where blocks are used as manipulatives.

Students use a ten-frame or a rod of cubes to quickly build a two-digit number. This prepares them for addition with 10.


(see Grade 1 Module 2 — Topic A: exercise f)

Then, by following the pattern students start to solve addition equations across ten.


(see Grade 1 Module 2 — Topic A: exercise k)

Happy Numbers explains that even if none of the addends is ten, it’s better first to make ten and then add any remaining ones.

Students practice the new skill on subsequent exercises that use varied visual models with different levels of abstraction.

Numbers beyond 20 & Place Value

Moving forward, Happy Numbers introduces numbers beyond 20. Students will start with a basic exercise on counting by ten. They model a rod of ten units using Base-10 Blocks and then count to see how three rods of 10 turn into 30. Magic!


To consolidate understanding, students apply their knowledge to a model with real objects in ten-frames. This exercise is also a great foundation for multiplication!


(see Grade 1 Module 4 — Topic A: exercise b)


As students did previously with two-digit numbers to 20, now they model a number beyond 20 using Base-10 Blocks. The great thing here is not only that tangible cubes are convenient to practice on, but that students may add and remove as many elements into the answer space as they want and need to find an answer.

Happy Numbers explains how to build a number beyond 20 using models in which parts of a number are divided according to their place value. Students count rods of ten separately from cubes and compose the answer from tens and ones.


(see Grade 1 Module 4 — Topic A: exercise h)

They build fluency by practicing on different visual models.


(see Grade 1 Module 4 — Topic A: exercise f)

They also study the unit form of a number, which is important to grasp before working with three-digit numbers in the next grade. The goal of this task is for students to decompose a number into tens and ones. The model is used as a visual resource so a student can at least count blocks in each rod to be sure the answer is correct.


(see Grade 1 Module 4 — Topic A: exercise m)

At the end of Module 4, students will practice numbers they learned using a new model, the Hundred Chart. It combines advantages from both the Number Line and Base-10 Blocks, and it provides opportunities to review number sequencing and place value. Learn more in our special video about Number Sense with the Hundred Chart.

Happy Numbers offers a game-like exercise based on the model of the Hundred Chart, in which Bunny needs to make a path to his den. Students will enjoy using their new knowledge in this engaging task!

Round Numbers

In Module 4 of the Grade 1 curriculum, students also become familiar with concept of a round number. First, they examine 2-digit numbers as a sum of tens and ones.


(see Grade 1 Module 4 — Topic A: exercise o)

Next, they  identify round numbers among other 2-digit numbers.


(see Grade 1 Module 4 — Topic A: exercise e)

The concept of round numbers is reinforced by Happy Numbers’ explanation on a Number Line. First, students  place a 2-digit number on a number line and then identify the closest round numbers.

image1(see Grade 1 Module 4 — Topic D: exercise a)

In case of a mistake, Happy Numbers helps students understand the error and correct it.


(see Grade 1 Module 4 — Topic D: exercise a)

Students also build fluency with round numbers to 100 by counting backward by 10 on a Number Line.


(see Grade 1 Module 4 — Topic C: exercise b)

Dive into Comparison

Happy Numbers starts off this topic by introducing comparison symbols and applying them to a familiar scenario with birds. It’s not necessary to even count the seeds on a display, as the greater amount is made bold for easy understanding.


(see Grade 1 Module 4 — Topic B: exercise b)

After students grasp the concept, Happy Numbers give them various exercises for practice. For example, in one exercise they will use numerical notation, a visual model of Base-10 Blocks organized by place value, and the sign of comparison all together.


(see Grade 1 Module 4 — Topic B: exercise e)

Exercises using train cars introduce another take on comparison by having students build a chain of non-sequential numbers to 20 in ascending and descending order.


(see Grade 1 Module 4 — Topic B: exercise a)

Addition and Subtraction beyond 20

Addition begins with an exercise in which students add 1 block or a rod of 10 to a visual model and then write an answer.

At the end of Module 4, students are ready to add two two-digit numbers. Happy Numbers presents these tasks with Base-10 Blocks as a visual model, so students can clearly see how it works.

Students then progress to more abstract math level with Place Value Cards. Happy Numbers shows how a two-digit number can be divided into tens and ones to be added separately. Also important, this topic introduces working with sums of ones above 10. This exercise gradually prepares students for the standard algorithm of Column Addition, which they will study in the next grade.

Numbers beyond 100

In Grade 1, Happy Numbers offers just a sneak peek into numbers beyond 100. There is brief practice on the already-familiar models of the Number Line, real objects with a ten-frame, and Base-10 Blocks.


(G1, M6, 2671)


(G1, M6, 2677)


(G1, M6, 2676)

It’s important to highlight that in these tasks the model of Base-10 Blocks looks very close to the Area Model students will encounter in Grade 3.

Learn the Ropes First

In Grade 2, students will study numbers up to 1000, work extensively with Place Value, and develop mental strategies for addition and subtraction. Therefore, in Grade 1 they do important preparation: practice operations with numbers up to 100, develop fluency with addition and subtraction, get to know round numbers, and compare numbers. In Happy Numbers, a lot of attention is paid to building conceptual understanding of basic math procedures, as it should become a strong foundation for students’ future education. There are plenty of interactive visual models, which can both help to display an equation and become a flexible instrument for solving a task. Students gain the skill of working with spatial exercises, which will be very helpful when geometry starts.

Provide your class with a comprehensive and engaging math curriculum that increases academic performance and gives each student an opportunity to improve readiness! Happy Numbers gladly delivers detailed data about your class and suggests curriculum changes corresponding to the best educational practices. Stay tuned!

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