Students learn addition and subtraction through a variety of hands-on activities. What we know about numeracy development is that students go through stages. As you see in other subjects, not every student experiences each of these stages in a linear way.
This is a generalization of the stages you might see when teaching addition and subtraction: This is the generalization of the stages you might see when teaching addition and subtraction: Direct modeling or counting (also called concrete): Students solve problems by having the objects in front of them to manipulate.
Counting more efficiently: Students solve problems by drawing pictures, making marks on the page, or perhaps counting on their fingers. Working with the numbers (also called abstract): Students solve the problems by working with numeral relationships. EXAMPLE: 5+8 could be decomposed to 5+5 = 10 and then 3 more which is 13.
At this stage, we would want students to have multiple problem-solving strategies as they take numbers apart and put them back together. For this activity, we decided to institute direct modeling in teaching our four and five year old students addition. Using magnetic numbers and Irish flags, students placed numerals onto a tray.
They then selected the corresponding amount of Irish flags. Upon completing the equation, students counted all of the flags, and then wrote the correct total.