Engagement,  Math

5 of the Best Activities for Addition and Subtraction with Regrouping

Activities for Addition and Subtraction with Regrouping

Pop quiz! What is the bane of a 2nd grade math teacher’s existence? If you said addition and subtraction with regrouping, you win!

All jokes aside, addition and subtraction is one of the major focuses of 2nd grade math – and for good reason! In most states, students only learn addition and subtraction through 20 in 1st grade. By the time they reach 3rd grade, the focus shifts to multiplication and division, and addition and subtraction is only barely touched on. They are already expected to know it. In other words, students basically have one year to not only learn but master addition and subtraction.

As a former 2nd grade teacher, I know how tedious it can get to spend such a large portion of the year focused on this one skill. Especially because it can be hard to get creative with this particular concept. If you’re feeling the same way, keep reading! I’m sharing 5 activities that may help you get out of that slump.

Addition and Subtraction with Regrouping Activities

Here are some ideas for activities you can use to help your students practice addition and subtraction, with or without regrouping.

1. Life-Sized Manipulatives

It’s important to make sure students have a conceptual understanding of how regrouping works. Because of this, manipulatives such as place value disks and base-10 blocks can be really helpful. However, constantly using this practice over and over can get old.

Switch it up by super-sizing your manipulatives! This can be as simple as using masking tape to create a place value chart on your floor and cutting circles out of construction paper for your place value disks.

Kick it up another notch by using items that your students are interested in, such as balls or stuffed animals. Here’s an example I made out of my husband’s disc golf discs. Now you may not have several flying discs laying around like I do, but you can get creative with whatever your students are currently into!

2. Partner Match Up

Partner match up is a fun game you can play to practice addition and subtraction. It gets students out of their seats and moving as they practice. To play, each student needs a card with a number on it and a whiteboard.

Students will roam around the room (play music if you want!) with their number and whiteboard until the music stops or a codeword is given. Then, students will partner up with the student closest to them. They will show each other their numbers and either add or subtract the two numbers on their whiteboards. Once solved, the students will compare their answers and check each others’ work. The students will then switch numbers, and the game repeats again.

3. Math Hangman

Math hangman is a fun math warm-up that helps build critical thinking skills. It can be used with any basic math operation, including addition and subtraction with regrouping.

To play, the teacher will think of a math equation and write it on the board, using blanks instead of the numbers (you can leave the operations in). Students will then guess numbers. As they guess, add correct numbers in the corresponding blanks, and add to the hangman drawing for wrong numbers.

Activities for addition and subtraction with regrouping

As numbers start filling in, students can use their understanding of number sense to help them figure out the rest of the numbers. Take the following example:

___ 1 4 + 3 ___ ___ = ___ 6 ___

In this example, we can figure out that the middle digit of the second number is 5. This is because the middle digit of the first number is 1 and of the total is 6. 1 + ___ = 6, so the answer is 5.

This is a quick game that helps students learn to be flexible with numbers as they practice addition and subtraction.

4. Missing Number Challenge

Another math activity you can use to help students develop critical thinking and flexibility with numbers is the missing number challenge. In this game, an addition or subtraction problem is fully worked, with some numbers covered up or missing. Students must figure out what the missing numbers are based off of the information that they do have.

This game is great to use as a math warm-up in the morning, or an early finisher activity. It is meaningful practice for addition and subtraction with regrouping, but can be used for other operations as well.

5. Create an Immersive Experience

Putting on an immersive experience, such as a room transformation, requires a lot more time and preparation. However, doing something like this even once can be a nice break from regular instruction while still providing your students with meaningful practice.

Come up with a theme or real-world experience for students to apply their addition and subtraction skills. In my class, I put on a Math Mystery where students became detectives for the day. They found clues by using addition and subtraction to solve puzzles that revealed the location of the next clue, until finally, they solved the mystery. It was a huge hit and an experience I know my students remembered!

Addition and subtraction with regrouping activities

Addition and Subtraction with Regrouping Word Problems

Word problems involving addition and subtraction with regrouping are another important part of math instruction. One of my favorite ways to teach word problems is with task cards, because they are so versatile! You can do so much with task cards to have some fun while still learning. If you would like some more ideas for how to use task cards in the classroom, check out this blog post.

Addition and subtraction with regrouping word problem task cards

For more fun ideas and activities you can use for teaching word problems, click here.

What are your favorite ways to teach addition and subtraction with regrouping?

One Comment

  • Hannah Penn

    Hi Kayla,

    I just bought the math mystery for addition and subtraction, and I didn’t receive a link with my receipt. How do I access my purchase?

    Thank you,

    Hannah Penn

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