Addition and Subtraction Part 1: Numerical Fluency

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

To be able to add and subtract, students normally pass through several phases as they build readiness for these operations with numbers.  As teachers, we know oral counting does not necessarily indicate an understanding of numbers and sets, just like reciting the alphabet doesn’t necessarily mean a child can recognize letters and sounds. Read ahead for freebies in the Part-Part-Whole section.

Numerical Fluency Continuum:  There are 7 steps to numerical fluency. If a child gets stuck on any of these steps, it may very likely halt their progress. Hopefully children move through these by the end of 2nd grade, but many students beyond that level have a breakdown which is likely because they missed one of these stages. Can you determine which of these stages your students are in?

  1. One-to-one correspondence: The ability to count objects so each object counted is matched with one number word.
  2. Inclusion of set: Does a child realize that the last number counted names the number of objects in the set? A child counts 5 objects.  When you ask how many, can they state “5.” If you mix them up after they just counted them, do they realize there are still 5?
  3. Counting on: If a child counts 5 objects and the teacher then puts 2 more objects for the child to count, do they start all over or continue counting from 5?  5 . . . 6, 7.
  4. Subitizing:Recognize an amount without physically counting (ie on dice, dot cards, fingers).
  5. More Than / Less Than / Equal To:  Can a child look at two sets of objects and tell whether the second set is more, less, or equal to the first set. Can a child build a second set with one more, one less, or equal to the first set?
  6. Part / Part / Whole: Compose and decompose sets by looking at the whole and the parts that make up the whole.
  7. Unitizing: The child is able to move from counting by ones to count by sets / groups: fives, tens, etc.

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Daily Math Meeting Part 2: The basics and subitizing (KG-2nd)

by Cindy Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

In the next few posts, I will show various ways to conduct daily math meetings which you can incorporate into your daily schedule (as part of your normal morning meeting routine, or at the beginning of your daily math lesson). Daily Math Meetings (10-15 minutes) are vital for quickly reviewing math concepts and number sense in more visual and discussion based format. With primary students, this math meeting might center around the calendar bulletin board (or SMARTboard presentation). With intermediate students, it begins to take on the aspects of a “Number Talk” with a variety of computational strategies being the focus.

PreK – KG Level Components:

  1. Counting
  2. Subitizing
  3. Days of the Week
  4. Months of the Year
  5. Graphing (weather, etc.)
  6. Place Value (tens and ones: ten frames, straws, sticks, etc. to keep track of the days of school – working toward the 100th day)

1st – 2nd Grade Level Components:

  1. The above plus . . .
  2. Number Bonds (How can we break apart this number? Such as 10 = 3 + 7 or 6 + 4)
  3. Place Value and skip counting using a 100 chart
  4. Number of the Day (word form, base ten form, place on a numberline, tally marks, on a ten frame, expanded form, etc.)
  5. Ordinal Numbers (using the calendar)
  6. Counting money (add one cent each day and exchange pennies for nickels, nickels for dimes, etc.)


See my updated post on this topic by clicking here:

This is such an important process in the continuum of counting, adding, and subtracting numbers. It means students can recognize certain quantities without physically counting each one. Continue reading

Number Talks Part 1: Subitizing and Number Bonds KG-1st grade

By Cindy Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

A Number Talk is an opportunity to review number sense and operations by making it part of your daily math routine — so that what has previously been taught is not easily forgotten.

In this post I will expand on 2 methods for conducting a Number Talk session for KG-1st grade students (Subitizing and Number Bonds). Refer to a previous post (Sept. 10 – Daily Practice to Build Number Sense), in which I mentioned several other ways to review math concepts on a daily basis such as calendar topics, weather graphs, counting # of days of school, using a 100 chart, Choose 3 Ways, etc. Continue reading