Looking for books that will help your learners understand the concept of addition?
The Blunders: A Counting Catastrophe! by Christina Soontornvat
I read this book waaaay too many times at the request of my Four. In it, a woman has ten children. Exasperated by their behavior, she sends them out for the day. When it’s time to return home, the Blunder children believe one of them is missing. This is because each time one of them counts their siblings, s/he forgets to count him/herself. Help your learners see that 9 + 1 = 10.
Five Silly Fishermen, by Roberta Edwards
Five silly fishermen set off to catch fish. When they’re ready to come home, one fishermen counts to make sure they are still a group of five. The fishermen despair when they realize that one of them has drowned; after all, when the fisherman counts his friends, he counts only four. A clever little girl counts all five fisherman (and wins their fish in the process). A quick read, and another good one for teaching +1.
If You Were a Plus Sign, by Trish Speed Shaskan
This book explains what addition means, defines the plus sign, defines a sum, and more. It’s a great book for introducing an addition unit in kindergarten or first grade.
The 512 Ants on Sullivan Street, by Carol A. Losi
This fun story teaches the concept of doubling, which you can use as you teach the doubles addition facts. In this rhyming tale, a family brings a basket of goodies for a picnic. But ants (and more and more ants!) keep taking their food. First we have 1 ant, then 2, then 4, then 8, etc.
What I love most about this book is that it has extension activities in the back by renowned math educator, Marilyn Burns. Highly recommended!
One is a Snail, Ten is a Crab, by April Pulley Sayre and Jeff Sayre
This may be one of my favorite counting books of all time. It’s a “counting by feet” book. As in… if you have 2 people, you have 4 feet. If you have 10 spiders, you have 80 feet. The book is just plain fun to read, but it also offers many opportunities for addition and skip counting.
Ten for Me, by Barbara Mariconda
Two friends go on a butterfly hunt as they race to see who will catch the most butterflies. I like how each page features a number sentence that equals 10 (4+6=10, 5+5 = 10, etc.). My Four and Six both requested this one often.
Animals on Board, by Stuart J. Murphy
This is one of my favorite books for introducing addition. My Four loved it and learned how to read addition number sentences using the pictures. On each page, another set of animals is riding on the back of a truck. We keep adding the animals together until the final pages, when we learn that they are being mounted on a carousel.
Ready, Set, Hop! by Stuart Murphy
Two frogs, Matty and Moe, have hopping contests throughout this book. Which frog can get to a location in fewer hops? The math isn’t as straightforward as I’d like in a book that introduces addition; use this one after children already understand the concept.
Quack and Count, by Keith Baker
Use this book to show your students how many different ways you can make the number 7. The text and pictures are great but very basic, so I wouldn’t use this past the beginning of first grade.
Math-terpieces, by Greg Tang
This is by far the most advanced book in this list. Use it with students who understand addition and are ready to make combinations of numbers to achieve a desired sum.
On each page we see images from a famous piece of artwork. Children are asked to find different combinations to make a particular number. Use this as a class and make a list of the number sentences on the board. Another option is to have students use this book in pairs at centers. Have them record their number sentences.
12 Ways to Get to Eleven, by Eve Merriam
This simple yet engaging book shows listeners 12 different ways to get to 11 … whether that’s nine pinecones and two acorns, or something more complex: four corners, two traffic lights, two chimneys, two cars, and one bicycle (all on Eleventh Street, of course). This would be a great book to read before a number talk.
Mission: Addition, by Loreen Leedy
This is a fun book, but it’s best read in pieces. Each “chapter” features a different concept about addition, such as:
- Addition is combining sets.
- When adding 2-digit numbers, add the ones and tens column.
- When adding a large group of single-digit numbers, add the first two and add that sum to the next number.
- How to solve addition word problems
The challenge with the book is that it’s very busy, with lots happening on each page. For clarity’s sake, it’s not my first choice. But you might have success with it if you show it to the whole class with a document camera.
The Mission of Addition, by Brian P. Cleary
This is a popular book for introducing addition, but it isn’t my favorite because the text is so difficult to read. Your listeners won’t care, though, and will enjoy the rhyming text and goofy illustrations.
Domino Addition, by Lynette Long
This is a brilliant book that is best used one-on-one or with small groups because you need to read it with a set of dominoes. I love the way it invites children to find dominoes whose dots have a particular sum. Children can discover a variety of ways to make a number, and the hands-on aspect makes it extra fun. Highly recommended, but not as a whole class read aloud.
What’s New at the Zoo? by Suzanne Slade
This is my all-time favorite book for introducing the concept of addition; it was a big hit with my preschooler. Each 2-page spread features an animal family at the zoo. When we add the adults and the babies, we have a simple addition problem which is recorded in the page. The book starts with a simple equation (2+1=3), and gradually builds up to 12+8 = 20.
Mall Mania, by Stuart J. Murphy
There’s a contest at the mall; the hundredth shopper to enter the mall will win all sorts of prizes. Four children stand at the entrances and use walkie talkies to keep track of the number of shoppers. This book is great for teaching students to add groups of numbers; I love that it shows two different approaches for each problem. The end of the book has even more math extension ideas.
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How do you teach the concept of addition?
- Start at the beginning with lots of counting practice.
- Use contextual examples.
- Use manipulatives first; then move students into centers and have them worksheets.
- Teach two addition models (join and part-part-whole).
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