Modeling Addition with Objects Less Than 20

by Laurie Laurendeau on November 9, 2009


Kindergarteners and First Graders are already exploring colorful beads, buttons, and blocks.  Before a child is ready to learn his Math Facts, he must understand that Addition means that a group of objects is being added to another group of objects.  Modeling Addition means showing that when one group of objects is added or joined together with another group of objects, the group becomes bigger, and the number of objects also becomes bigger.


  • Begin by giving your child a set of 20 objects (pennies, buttons, etc…) that she can manipulate and move around to count.  Be sure he can successfully count all 20 objects.
  • Place ex: 4 objects in a small cup.  Place another 2 objects in another cup.  Ask your child how many objects are in each cup individually.  Then ask him how many objects there would be if they tried putting them all into one cup.  Your child will likely add the contents of one cup to the other, then count all of the objects.
  • Once your child can demonstrate that, for example,  a group of 4 objects, joined together with a group of 2 objects, makes a new group of 5 objects, he is ready to move on to the same activity on paper.  Draw 6 stars on the right side of a piece of paper, and draw 2 more stars on the left side of the page.  Ask your child how many stars he sees altogether.


  • Watch that your child moves only one object each time she says a number while counting.  This is known as One-to-One Correspondence
  • If your child is about to add a group of 3 objects to another group of 2 objects, you might think that she would see the 3 objects, and begin counting from there, saying “4, 5” as she adds the set of 2 objects. Don’t be surprised if your child starts at 0, and counts all the objects in the first group, before adding the objects in the other group.
  • As your child has practice with adding groups of objects together, point out to her that the end number (the sum or total) is always a higher number


  • Counting
  • One-to-One-Correspondence
  • Math Facts
  • Addition


  • Have questions or ideas about this story?
  • Need help or advice about your child’s learning?
  • Have ideas for future Parent Homework Help stories?

Go to “Leave a Reply” at the bottom of this page.  I’d love to help!

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: