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Mental Maths – Counting On Strategy

Does anyone else out there dislike teaching mental maths? I don’t know what it is about it….but I always struggled to teach my students the skills needed in order to be able to mentally calculate. So over the next 5 days I’m going to share with you some of the activities and games I use to help teach various mental maths strategies.

The general aim of teaching these mental maths strategies to students is to:

  1. Encourage students to use mental computation as a first choice and as a way of checking other forms of calculation.
  2. Assist students in building a large variety of strategies from which they can select to complete calculations.
  3. Help students in understanding the relationships and patterns that occur between numbers and operations, which will then aid them in their mental calculations.
  4. Develop in students confidence and enjoyment in mathematics through the control and command over numbers.

Today we’ll look at a useful strategy to use when students are first learning to add two numbers, the counting on strategy.

What is counting on?

Counting on is where you start with the larger number of the two numbers and count on the smaller number. This is much more efficient than beginning with the smaller number and counting on. For example: 4 + 7 =

Start with the larger number (7) and then get your students to count on 4: 8, 9, 10, 11. You could get your students to use counters, their fingers or a number line/track. Get students to first circle the larger number and then count on. You could also complete counting on using a 100 chart.

Below are some examples of different ways you can get your students to practice this strategy.

mental mathsCounting on game

This is a game for 2 players. You will need a deck of cards for the players with the picture cards removed (Jack, Queen, King, Joker). The ace can be used as a 1 in this game.

  • Separate the cards in two piles, one with the cards: ace, 2, 3 and 4 and the other pile with the cards 5 – 10. Shuffle each pile so they’re in a random order and place face down on the playing surface.
  • Players take turns turning over the top two cards. They add the two numbers using the counting on strategy: count on from the larger number, and count on the smaller number. For example, if the two cards turned over were 8 and 4. They would start with 8, count on 4: 9, 10, 11, 12.
  • If players have the correct answer, they get to keep both cards.
  • If the answer is incorrect the other player can have a go at answering the question to keep both the cards.
  • Continue play until one of the piles run out of cards.
  • The winner is the player with the most cards at the end of the game.

Stay tuned tomorrow where I’ll share with you the mental maths strategy of near doubles.

Click here to find more fun math games and activities

Graphic Credits: Graphics From the Pond

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