Addition and Subtraction Strategies


Addition and Subtraction Strategies illustrates how to add or subtract whole numbers using place values and the properties of operations. Students will learn these two strategies and understand how they work and why.

There are several additional suggestions in the “Options for Lesson” section on the classroom procedure page that you could incorporate into your instruction. One suggestion is to add additional problems to the activity to allow students more practice. You could also have students create their own word problems and exchange them with each other to solve.

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What our Addition and Subtraction Strategies lesson plan includes

Lesson Objectives and Overview: Addition and Subtraction Strategies teaches students how to add and subtract in a couple specific ways. Students will learn about place value and the properties of operations. By the end of the lesson, they will see how and why these strategies work. This lesson is for students in 1st grade, 2nd grade, and 3rd grade.

Classroom Procedure

Every lesson plan provides you with a classroom procedure page that outlines a step-by-step guide to follow. You do not have to follow the guide exactly. The guide helps you organize the lesson and details when to hand out worksheets. It also lists information in the blue box that you might find useful. You will find the lesson objectives, state standards, and number of class sessions the lesson should take to complete in this area. In addition, it describes the supplies you will need as well as what and how you need to prepare beforehand. The supplies you will need for this lesson are the handouts and cubes, blocks or other manipulatives. To prepare for this lesson ahead of time, you can gather the supplies and copy the handouts.

Options for Lesson

Included with this lesson is an “Options for Lesson” section that lists a number of suggestions for activities to add to the lesson or substitutions for the ones already in the lesson. The first few suggested adjustments to this lesson are for the activity. You can use additional problems for the activity. You can also not allow your students to use manipulatives. For the homework assignment, you can encourage students to work with a partner or other family member. You could also have students create their own work problems for other students to solve. Finally, you can have your students brainstorm additional strategies that they could use to solve addition or subtraction problems and create a booklet of all of their ideas.

Teacher Notes

The teacher notes page includes a paragraph with additional guidelines and things to think about as you begin to plan your lesson. It notes that you can teach this lesson in conjunction with others on addition and subtraction. This page also includes lines that you can use to add your own notes as you’re preparing for this lesson.


Adding and Subtracting

The Addition and Subtraction Strategies lesson plan includes four content pages. The lesson begins with a short review of what addition and subtraction are and what to call the different numbers in an equation. Addition is when we add numbers or objects together. We add when we count, and we call the numbers that we’re adding together addends. The sum of an addition problem is a sum. Subtraction is when we take away one number from another to find the difference. We call the first number in a subtraction problem the minuend and the second number a subtrahend. We call the answer the difference. The lesson includes some example addition and subtraction problems for students to review.

The lesson points out that students already know how to regroup, borrow, and carry when solving addition and subtraction problems. However, they may not understand how and why addition and subtraction work, or that there are other strategies that they can use when solving addition and subtraction problems.

Strategies for Adding

We call small numbers between 0 and 9, with a single digit, ones; two digit numbers between 10 and 99 tens, because they have a second place value; and three-digit numbers between 100 and 999 hundreds, because they have a third place value. Ones, tens, and hundreds are place values. Understanding place value is helpful for adding and subtracting. Students might have used blocks or other objects to help add or subtract. The lesson includes some examples.

One of the examples shows blocks arranged as one hundred, nine tens, and five ones, for a total of 195. Using blocks or pictures and grouping numbers in this way can be helpful when solving addition problems. You can use cubes, toothpicks, or other objects.

Another strategy that you can use also uses place value to add. It shows the different ways that you can group numbers by place value to solve addition problems. For example, the problems 147 + 395 is the same as (200 + 300) + (40 + 90) + (7 + 5). For the second version, you would first add by place value and then add those three numbers together to get the final answer. With this method, you don’t need to regroup or carry.

You can also use drawings, pictures, or symbols to solve addition word problems. You can also use a number line. The lesson shows an example of how to use a number line to solve an addition problem.

Subtraction Strategies

We also have several strategies for subtraction. Just like addition problems, you can use a number line as a strategy to solve subtraction problems. The lesson shows an example of this.

Another strategy for subtracting is to use parts of a number. The lesson includes an example of this (145 – 26) and breaks the process down into three steps. The first step is to break apart one of the numbers. 26 becomes 20 and 6. Next, you subtract one of these parts from the larger number: 145 – 20 = 125. Finally, you subtract the other part from the new number: 125  – 6 = 119.

Another strategy is to “add backwards,” which is a great strategy to use when the two numbers are close together. You simply figure out how much you would need to add to the smaller number to get the larger number. For the example problem 162 – 148, you need to figure out how much you would need to add to 148 to get to 162. The answer to this example problem is 14.

A final strategy is to use cubes, blocks, or other objects or symbols.

A great strategy that you can use for both adding and subtracting is to familiarize yourself with fact families. If you learn these, you will enhance your understanding of adding and subtracting and will learn why and how these processes work. The lesson includes a few examples of fact families.

It’s important to learn different strategies for adding and subtracting because you will spend your whole life needing to add and subtract! You can use these strategies to make it easier. You should also learn how to use words to explain addition and subtraction problems and how to solve them. The lesson includes an example of this as well. The lesson closes by stating that you should use the strategy or strategies that work best for you when adding and subtracting.


The Addition and Subtraction Strategies lesson plan includes three worksheets: an activity worksheet, a practice worksheet, and a homework assignment. You can refer to the guide on the classroom procedure page to determine when to hand out each worksheet.


For this activity, students will work with a partner to solve a number of word problems. There are five problems total, each with two boxes beneath it. The boxes represent two different strategies the students will use to solve the problem. Students can write out a rough draft explaining each method and then use the boxes for the final explanation. After everyone finishes, you can have the class share with each other the different ways they solved the problems.

Students can work either alone or in larger groups for this activity if you’d prefer.


There are a couple sections on the practice worksheet. The first section requires students to use the word bank of key terms from the content pages to fill in blank boxes. Next, they will read through a couple word problems. There is space around each problem in which students can draw or explain how they got their answers.


Similar to the practice, the homework contains two sections. The first section requires students to correctly complete 12 fact families. The second section requires them to solve four word problems using the strategy at the end of the sentence. They can show their word in the space beneath the word problem.

Worksheet Answer Keys

This lesson plan includes answer keys for the activity worksheet, the practice worksheet, and the homework assignment. If you choose to administer the lesson pages to your students via PDF, you will need to save a new file that omits these pages. Otherwise, you can simply print out the applicable pages and keep these as reference for yourself when grading assignments.

Additional information


1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade



State Educational Standards


Lessons are aligned to meet the education objectives and goals of most states. For more information on your state objectives, contact your local Board of Education or Department of Education in your state.

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Strategies for addition and subtraction

Nice resource and challenging activities.

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I loved the samples that I downloaded. They were colorful, correctly aligned to the CCSS standards.

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This packet was amazing andhelpful especially in this time where the kids are out of school. The packet provides instructions for the teacher (or parent) so that you know how to teach the subject to your student (or child). Then they provide easy directions for each activity the child does and also great variety. Im so pleased with Clarendon Learning!

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Great resource.