It’s easy to think that you can get to school going the same route everyday, and most probably do. But, For other people in your community, they need to get to school using a different route. If they took your route, they’d end up somewhere completely different. Or, what if there was a traffic jam or a road closure and you had to take a second route. I’m sure that it would be helpful to know a second way right?
Teaching math is the same way. There are many different ways we learn concepts, and just like we don’t all get to school the same way, not all students learn the same way. Some need different strategies than others. (Check out my tips on how to teach word problems here!)
That’s why I want to show you these helpful strategies for teaching addition with place value. And guess what – they actually make sense! Before I begin, let me explain that this is not to say the algorithm way is wrong. I’m not saying that.
But I will say that teaching addition within 1,000 using place value strategies is a standard in most states. That means, teachers MUST teach this to students and students must show a basic understanding of this in order to pass.
Now that we’re clear, let me show you four place value strategies that are super helpful for young learners.
Strategy #1: Use Place Value Blocks
This strategy is useful for students who are just beginning to add three digit numbers. Here’s how this works…
Students draw each number using base tens blocks. Let’s say you have 329 + 322, then students draw 6 hundred blocks, 4 tens rods, and 11 one’s cubes. Since they can make a ten using one’s cubes, they circle it to represent an additional ten. Now they have 6 hundred blocks, 5 tens rods, and 1 one’s cube.
This is helpful for visual learners which includes most children.
Strategy #2: Break apart values, and then add
This strategy builds on place value except instead of drawing the value, students will write the value in number form. Move onto this strategy once students have shown mastery using place value blocks. It’s a little more abstract, but it’s still concrete for young children.
For this strategy, students write the value of each digit and add it together. For example: Let’s say you have 489 + 204 You would then write the value of each digit, 400 + 80 + 9 + 200 + 4 After that, you organize the numbers based on hundreds, tens, and ones. 400 + 200 + 80 + 9 + 4
Finally, you add them all together to show 693. If you’re wondering why all the steps, it’s because we’re organizing the step-by-step processes for doing this mentally. What I mean is, when students practice this, eventually, they’ll be able to compute these large numbers in their head! That beats the algorithm any day!
Strategy #3: Hundreds, Tens, and Ones Values
This strategy is just a small step into the algorithm and it’s one of our favorites in my class. Students LOVE this strategy because it’s vertical and it’s easy to keep the work nice and neat.
Traditionally, we’re taught to start adding on the one’s place. However, with this strategy students are to begin adding in the hundreds place. Let’s say we have 579 + 282 we would solve it like the picture below.
For more practice, check out my three digit addition math games for FREE here!
Strategy #4: Use a number line to visualize
This strategy is for students who have a solid grasp of skip counting hundreds, tens, and ones.
A number line is a tool that shows up over and over again in elementary math. It’s not only used for addition and subtraction, but it’s also used for modeling fractions, elapsed time, and decimals.
Students start with an addend, and then they count on skipping with the hundreds, tens, and ones.
For example, let’s say you had 284 + 472. Students would start with 472 and then add 200 to get to 672. Then, they would add 80 to get to 752. Finally, they add 4 to get to 756.
This can be tricky for students who still struggle with skip counting, but it is still important to teach how to use a number line since it shows up over and over again.
Strategy #5: Use compensation to make an easier number
This strategy is what many adults use without even thinking about it.
We take from one addend and give it to another addend to make an easier number. For example, 328 + 213 some people might take two from 213 and add it to 328. This makes an easier number to add 330 + 211 = 541.
My students really enjoyed this strategy to manipulate numbers to add because they manipulated it in a way that made sense to them. There was no correct or incorrect way to manipulate the numbers just as long as they came to the same conclusion that the sum was 541.
Practice using these strategies in small groups or with partners using this game. If you’re teaching remotely or want more independent practice, try using this digital math game instead. Of course, you can use this on an interactive whiteboard during a math center as well.
Have you tried any of these methods? What’s your favorite? Let me know in the comments!