Everyday Addition and Subtraction

Basic Addition and Subtraction with Everyday Items

Practicing basic addition and subtraction doesn't have to be complicated! In this article, learn how to use common everyday items you probably already have in your classroom or at home to help little ones practice adding and subtracting. Make math practice simple and fun with these everyday addition and subtraction ideas! Read on to find out more.

We're all for elaborate math activities like math board games, art projects, and homemade math manipulatives to help liven up your math practice routine. But let's face it, sometimes the best way to practice basic math skills is to keep it simple! That's exactly why we put together some incredibly easy ideas to help your students practice basic adding and subtracting. Chances are, you will already have most of these items on hand, but if you don't, a quick trip to the dollar store will get you on the fast track to math fact practice. 

Check out the following everyday addition and subtraction hacks and let us know which ones are your favorites! Tag @iknowit on social media so we can see your math practice ideas in action! 

Pantry Staples

 Photo 1 - Practice Math Facts with Pantry Staples

Grab a paper plate and some pantry staples, like dried beans, pasta, cereal, or mixed nuts to practice adding and subtracting. Draw a plus or minus sign and an equal sign on the paper plate with a marker. Use the dried beans or other pantry staples to represent different addition and subtraction facts: "3 + 4 = 7"; "9 - 3 = 6"; "1 + 4 = 5"; and so on. You can use printable addition and subtraction flashcards, a pair of dice, or math facts read aloud to guide students through the activity. 

This activity is sure to turn your little ones into expert bean counters! 

Home Office Items

Practice Math Facts with Home Office Items

Wondering what to do with all the sticky notes you have stashed away in your home office desk drawers? Put those colorful little post-it notes to use in your addition and subtraction practice sessions! Here's an idea: write an incomplete math fact on each sticky note: "8 + 2 ="; "15 - 6 ="; etc. and mix up the answers on a sheet of paper. Kids will stick the incomplete math facts onto the matching answers. Alternatively, use more sticky notes to write out the answers and then spread them out on a table or work surface. Students can stick the math facts together to make a complete, correct number sentence. 

That's a pretty good way to make those math facts stick! 

Clothes Hanger and Clothes Pins

Practice Adding and Subtracting with Clothes Pins

It's practically impossible to toss this idea aside because the supplies are hard to find—everybody has a clothes hanger, right?! We're guessing you've got some clothes pins lying around too, but pop over to your local dollar store and grab a pack if you don't! This idea is a clever way to display addition and subtraction facts. Label your clothes hanger with a plus or minus sign and hang up clothes pins on either side of the symbol to represent the numbers in the math fact. Check out our example above! Kids will display the addition or subtraction fact and say the whole number sentence out loud, including the sum or difference. 

Not too hard to get the hang of this one! 

Printable Ten-Frames and Pom Poms 

Ten-Frame Addition and Subtraction

Ten-frames are an incredibly useful tool for teaching basic addition and subtraction. Use a printable 10-frame (or 5-frame or 20-frame), along with any number of objects from your home or classroom arts-and-crafts bin, to practice basic adding and subtracting. We grabbed a package of pom poms we had handy, but you could use buttons, beads, bingo dabbers, stickers, or even googly eyes to add and subtract with ten-frames. Use printable addition and subtraction flashcards, a pair of dice, or math facts read aloud to help students display a variety of math facts with their 10-frames. 

Who knew—you don't even have to make a sticky, glittery mess to get crafty with math facts! 

Pipe Cleaners and Beads

Practice Math Facts with Craft Supplies

Here's another craft-inspired idea for practicing addition and subtraction facts. Use pipe cleaners (also called chenille stems) and beads to represent a variety of addition and subtraction facts. Separate groups of beads on a pipe cleaner to represent the addends in an addition fact or the minuend and subtrahend in a subtraction fact. You can use printable addition and subtraction flashcards, a pair of dice, or math facts read aloud to help students display the math facts with pipe cleaners and beads. Students will either write or say the answer that completes each number sentence. 

Easy peasy! 

You can see from these ideas that practicing math facts with everyday items is so simple! No need for fancy materials or a complicated set-up. Just grab a few beans, sticky notes, or clothes pins, and get adding and subtracting!

Looking for more fun interactive activities to practice addition and subtraction? Head over to iKnowIt.com to explore dozens of engaging math practice activities to help kids master math facts! 


Posted by {{elem.name}} {{elem.position_grade}} | Posted {{elem.published}}



Leave a comment

Thank you! Your comment has been submitted.
Name / Username
(Will not be displayed)
Grade Level
+ =