There are many different ways to introduce the concept of addition to young learners. Here you will find a collection of fun ways for children to experience addition in the preschool years as well as free preschool addition worksheets to practice it. I don’t recommend addition flash cards for this age group. Instead, try math activities such as games and addition mats.
Easy Addition Games
Roll and Fill a Cup
This is a fun activity for preschoolers. All you need is a cup, a die, and blocks. They will practice counting and adding to the cup until it is full. Roll the die. Add that many blocks to the cup by dropping them in. When your cup is full, you win. How many blocks did it take to fill your cup? In this experience, use the language of “adding to the cup”. They are being introduced to basic addition skills in a natural way without even having to see addition equations.
Teacher Led Word Problems
Give each child a handful of blocks, buttons, gems, or pom poms. I like to use special manipulatives that they haven’t seen before for this activity. It makes it special and exciting. Tell a story and have them count out the manipulatives to find the answer. For example, I was walking along the river and I found 3 fish. (The children move 3 manipulatives in front of them). Then, I caught 2 more fish in my net. (Move 2 more manipulatives to the pile.) How many fish did I find all together? (The children count the manipulatives.)
Practicing addition through stories is an engaging and great way to introduce it. Once the children find the sum, you can also say “That’s right. I did find 5 fish. 3 fish plus 2 fish equals 5 fish.” and write the addition sentences as you say it.
Act It Out
Act out math problems together. For example, 4 children boarded the train. (Have 4 children stand up and pretend to be on a train.) Then, 2 more children got on at the next stop. (Have 2 more children stand up and join the group.) How many children are on the train all together?
Children love acting these out over and over again. The children who aren’t acting it out get to see the addition equation come to life and can answer the questions.
Free Addition Printables
These free addition worksheets can be used in small groups or in math centers. One easy way to make them reusable is to laminate them and pair it with a dry erase marker so they can be done over and over again.
Adding with Dice
I love adding with dice because the children are involved in rolling them and creating the simple addition problems. Roll one die and set it in the first box. Roll a second die and put it in the second box. Write the answer in the last box or find the number using the number cards in the packet and set it in the last box.
Use the number cards to make an addition equation or write numbers in the box for your students to solve. Use manipulatives (buttons, gems, or blocks) to solve the equation by putting each number of objects in the hexagon boxes.
Print this addition mat and stack towers of legos in each box to solve an addition equation. For example, a stack of 3 blocks plus a stack of 4 blocks equals 7.
This simple addition worksheet has children counting the apples to see how many there are all together. I like how this page has only a few math problems on it. That is the perfect amount for this age group.
Addition with a Number Line
Not all preschool aged children will be ready to work with the abstract concept of a number line (and that is ok!). For those that are or for Kindergarten aged children, I included this number line worksheet.