Beginning Addition: Grouping Objects

by Laurie Laurendeau on May 10, 2011

Before your child ever sees an Addition table or has to memorize any Addition facts, he will be introduced to the concept of Addition.  It is important that he is given many opportunities to explore the grouping together of objects.  This kindergarten and first grade math skills exploration will better prepare him to understand the concept of Addition: bringing groups of objects together to create a larger group.


Fishy, Fishy, Swim to Me Math Game

Materials: Goldfish crackers, a clear glass and a paper plate.

  • Place 7 Goldfish crackers on the plate and 3 in the glass.
  • Tell your child that the fish in the glass (or “fish bowl”) wish they had more friends to play with.  Say this rhyme:  “Fishy, Fishy, swim to me, how many fishies do you see?”  Ask your child how many fish are in the fish bowl.  He should answer “3.”
  • Now have your child take one fish from the paper plate and make it “swim” into the fish bowl with the 3 other fish.  Say the rhyme together as he does this.
  • Ask your child,  “How many fish are in the fish bowl now?”  He will likely count the fish and hopefully respond “4.”
  • Say, “That’s right.  There were 3 fish in the fish bowl, and 1 more fish swam into the bowl and now there are 4 fish.  We added one more fish and now there are 4 fish altogether.”
  • Continue adding more fish to the fish bowl as you recite the rhyme together.  Be sure to point out that the number of fish is getting bigger each time you add another fish.

Sock Hunt

  • As you’re doing laundry, put the socks into 2 piles.  Ask your child to count how many socks are in one pile and then count the socks in the other pile.  Write the 2 numbers down so he can see the numbers. Now ask him to add up how many socks there are altogether.  Again, point out that when he added the socks from both piles, he got a larger number of socks.  Now ask him to put the socks into pairs for you!

Teddy Bear Picnic

Materials: Teddy Graham crackers , small kitchen towel

  • Lay out the kitchen towel on the table and tell your child that the teddy bears are having a picnic today.  Ask him how many teddy bears he thinks should be in the family.  Place that number of teddy bears on the picnic blanket (towel).
  • Tell him that the teddy bears thought it would be fun to go on a picnic together, but they miss their friends.  They decide to invite some more friends to their picnic.  Bring 2 more teddy bears onto the picnic blanket to join them. Ask your child, “How many teddy bears are there now?”
  • Continue adding more teddy bears to the group (don’t go further than what your child can count!).

Your Own Stories

Make up simple Addition stories of your own with your child.  Once he’s heard several Addition stories from you, he might be ready to try to invent some of his own.  Encourage him to create his own stories, but do not be concerned if he is not ready for this step quite yet.

What to Watch For:

  • When children begin to add numbers together, it is common that they count both groups of objects.  For example, if they have 5 buttons in one pile and 3 buttons in the other pile, they will likely not start counting at 5 and go up to 8.  Rather, they will count the 5 buttons and continue counting the other 3 buttons until they land on 8.  This is completely natural and will develop in time.

Want More?

  • As always, playing math games at home is a great way to reinforce math skills learned in school.
  • Have questions or ideas about this story?
  • Need help or advice about your child’s learning?
  • Have ideas for future Parent Homework Help stories?

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