Grade Levels: K-3

This page provides information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about counting on. It is designed to complement the Counting On topic page on BrainPOP Jr.

Help your children understand that they can employ different strategies to add. They can draw pictures, use tally marks, use a number line or a hundred chart, use mental math, and more. This topic explores the strategy of counting on 0, 1, 2, and 3. It also introduces how to form an addition number sentence and presents the symbols and vocabulary associated with addition equations, including the plus sign (+), the equal sign (=), and the sum. The topic also investigates the commutative property of addition, which states that switching the order of the addends does not affect the sum, and the zero property of addition, which states that adding 0 to a number leaves it unchanged. BrainPOP Jr. plans on producing more math movies that focus on specific strategies and concepts, such as making a ten, doubles facts, and related fact families.

Practice counting up to 12 with your children, starting with 0. You may want to count using dried beans, marbles, beads, or other manipulatives. Then write the numbers on a number line together, from 0 to 12. Present your children with three counters and have them count them out loud. Then add 1 more counter to the group. How many counters are there now? You can count them together again. Explain that to make counting easier, they can start with 3 and count on 1 to get to 4. You can show counting on 1 by using the number line or hundred chart. Present your children with a different group of counters and add 1 more to the group. Repeat the activity several times until your children see a pattern: when you count on 1, the number goes up by 1. Encourage your children to create their own group of counters and add one more to the group. What is the total? What happens if you add 1 to a group of 9 counters?

Now present your children with 5 counters and add 2 more to the group. How many counters are there in all? Demonstrate that you can count each counter starting at one, or you can start with 5 and add on 2: 6, 7. There are 7 counters in all. Ask your children to discuss which strategy was faster and why? We recommend modeling vocabulary that students may encounter in addition problems, such as in all, all together, or in total. These key phrases will be useful when they solve word problems, although they should know that they do not always signify that it is an addition problem. You may wish to show how you added the groups by using a number line. Explain that they can write a number sentence to show how the groups were added: 5 + 2 = 7. Remind children that the plus sign (+) means to add. Point to the 7 and explain that the total of an addition number sentence is called the sum. Practice counting on 2 from other numbers and model writing addition number sentences. Then have children create their own group of counters, add 2 more to the group, and write an equation to show how they added. You may want to explore number sentences where the sum is equal to or greater than 10, such as 8 + 2, 9 + 2, or 10 + 2.

Present your children with 6 counters and add 3 more to the group. How many counters are there all together? Instead of counting from one, you can start with 6 and count on 3: 7, 8, 9. There is a total of 9 counters. Write the number sentence 6 + 3 = 9 together. Help your children understand that the order they add the groups does not matter. They can start with 3 and count on 6. Swap the positions of the groups of counters to show that 6 + 3 and 3 + 6 both equal 9. Practice counting on 3 from different numbers and writing equations. Have children swap the position of the addends and see if they still arrive at the same sum. With some practice, children usually notice that it is easier to count on from the larger number. If your children do not notice this on their own, you may want to use a number line to demonstrate that it is quicker to count on from the larger number. We recommend exploring number sentences such as 9 + 3, 8 + 3, and 7 + 3, where the sum is greater than 10 so children can practice working with numbers with a digit in the tens place.

The concept of zero can be confusing to some children. Remind them that zero means nothing. You may want to explain the concept using a silly sentence such as “There are zero elephants in this room.” Have children come up with their own silly sentences. Present a group of 9 counters and explain that you will not add more counters to the group. How many counters are there in all? Explain how the number does not change if you add nothing. Write the number sentence: 9 + 0 = 9. Now present your children with no counters. How many do you have? You have zero counters. Then add 3 counters. How many counters do you have now? The answer is 3. Challenge children to come up with a number sentence to show how you added: 0 + 3 = 3.

Counting on is just one strategy that children can utilize to solve math problems. Remind your children that there is more than one way to come up with an answer. Encourage them to experiment with their own strategies, look for patterns, and find different ways of manipulating numbers. Turn math into a fun experience where children can explore and play with numbers.

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