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7 Addition with Regrouping Strategies & Tools (1, 2, & 3-Digit)

Written by: Angie Olson

I am a huge advocate for teaching students the WHY before the PROCEDURE when learning a new math concept.  I am a firm believer that teachers owe it to their students to teach them multiple ways to solve math problems.  We all learn concepts in different ways and math is no different.  With that said, this post is going to explain several different addition with regrouping strategies that you can teach your students so that they can better understand this concept and easily transfer from 1-digit to 2 and 3-digit addition with regrouping problems.

Addition with regrouping is a very systematic concept for students to learn and without a solid understanding of place value, there’s no point in going any further with instruction.  It is essential that students are firm in their place value skills before moving forward with addition with regrouping.  Depending on where you teach, you may be required to teach 2-digit and 3-digit addition a bit differently.  So, I am providing you will a variety of strategies that you can try with your students.  If you see a strategy that you cannot use, keep scrolling.  I promise there will be something that you will find helpful.

1. Place Value Mats

Before I start my addition with regrouping unit, I spend a month teaching place value.  Students must be solid in their place value understanding to truly understand the WHAT and WHY of addition with regrouping.  The first day of teaching this skill, my students receive unifix cubes and they learn what regrouping looks like.  You can also use place value blocks but I like that unifix cubes can be pulled apart and pushed together.  We always start with a two-digit number on top and a one-digit number on the bottom.  Here’s how I teach it:

As I am going through this lesson, I have students who seem to be able to grasp the concept, come up and show the class how to do it all while explaining what they are doing.  When students explain their thinking and thought process, it is extremely powerful.

After a day or two of teaching this concept using the place value mat, I will have them move to paper and pencil solving but still provide them with their unifix cubes and place value mat to build and solve each problem.  Make sure to download a place value mat before going any further!

One tip is to give your students highlighters and have them go through their worksheet and highlight the ones place so that they have the visual reminder of where to start solving their math problems.

Be watchful of those who just want to take the two-digit number and count on.  Although this is a practical way to solve these problems, you must be also thinking about the concept that you are trying to teach them…regrouping.

Next, we move to two-digit numbers on top and bottom.  Of course, we go back to the math manipulatives to help them see and understand the process of regrouping.

We continue to highlight the ones place at this stage.  I want to make it a habit for my students to always start with the ones place first.  This concept is more complicated for them then we realize.  They are trained to read and write from left to right so starting them on the right side of the problem tends to cause some students to struggle.

As I stated at the top of this post, I am a firm believer in teaching students multiple ways to solve problems because you never know what will connect with them.  Here are a few more ways that I have shown my students how to solve addition with regrouping problems.

4. Slice & Split Method

Once your students find a method or two that they feel comfortable using, it’s important to provide plenty of opportunities to practice!  Here are some resources that you can start using in your classroom today.

5. Math Puzzles

Each puzzle focuses on a math skill. There are 10 pieces to each puzzle. Each puzzle piece has a math problem for the student to solve. Then the student assembles the puzzle by putting their pieces in order from least to greatest. Don’t leave without grabbing the six free math puzzles at the top of this post!

6. Math Toothy

Toothy® task kits are highly engaging task card math games or math centers that allow students to practice math skills and answer questions in a fun, motivating way. The answers on the back of the math task cards make the activity self-paced and self-correcting.

2 Ways to Get Toothy

Or... Purchase a bundle in our shop.

7. 1st & 2nd Grade Math Centers

Keep your students learning and diving deep with their math skills all year through the use of engaging, rigorous, and hands on center activities that your students will be sure to love! Our Lucky to Learn Math Curriculum also has hands-on, collaborative activities to practice addition with regrouping. Check out this addition strategies mini lesson that features a fun theme – pizza shop! Hands-on, practical activities will help increase student comprehension. You can check out more addition strategy mini lessons and activities here.

Lucky to Learn Math Activities

Our Lucky to Learn Math curriculum features anchor charts for each addition strategy. You can print them out to use during whole group instruction, and even give each student a copy to add to their personal math notebooks! Find the addition with regrouping anchor charts here. For an extra review, check out this mini lesson from Unit 3.5 in Lucky to Learn Math, to review 2-digit addition with multiple addends. Strategies like base ten blocks, number lines, place value disks, and friendly numbers are matched with visuals to help students recall and apply the strategies to find the answer. You can find the minilesson here.

with Regrouping Unit

1. I love these ideas!! Thank you so much!

2. Angie, loved, loved, loved your scope! This is an amazing follow up post. Pinned and shared it so that others can see these great strategies in action. I would love to see a follow up post involving the strategies you use for subtraction with regrouping! Thank you for being AMAZING!
Sebrina
Burke's Special Kids

• Thank you for leaving such sweet and thoughtful feedback, Sebrina! I'm so glad you caught my scope too! I plan to bring a subtraction with regrouping post this coming Monday!

• By scope do you mean how you started with blocks and then moved to pencil paper strategies? Don’t want to sound silly but want to clarify? Thank you for sharing!

• ​Hi! We would love to help you with this question, please email us at customerservice@luckylittlelearners.com and we will do our best to answer it for you! Thanks so much!

Bailey Jordan
Lucky Little Learners

3. You did a great job presenting these strategies! I watched your presentation over my morning coffee and walked away with some great ideas. I've never used the highlighter strategy; love how visual that is and that it costs nothing to add to our classroom routines. Love your place value mat too! Thanks for sharing your hard work! 🙂

• You're welcome Jo-Anne! Glad these could be helpful to you! There's nothing better than a free and practical tip, right?!

4. Thank you so much for all you do and for sharing it! It is so appreciated! ?

• Thank YOU for taking the time to tell me that, Karyl! I appreciate you leaving me feedback…it keeps me inspired!

5. Thank you so very much!!! I will be incorporating these into my unit. We are starting subtraction with regrouping now. I would really LOVE to know if you have some wonderful ideas for that too!

• Hi Leslie! I have some big plans for subtraction with regrouping and I plan to do a scope on that for Math Motivation Monday this coming Monday! I hope you can tune in!

6. This is brilliant! Thank you for the mat freebie! I think this is EXACTLY what my struggling learners need, a different visual and it's perfect!

7. Hi Angie, thank you for the great tips! You really make my day. I simply love how you use the manipulatives and make Maths so fun! The manipulative I use most are the unifix cubes but the post-it idea is simply awesome – so easy and so visual!

8. I’m a kindergarten teacher and love these ideas. I know my kiddos are slowly getting regrouping but I definitely want to show them some of the cool
Ideas to show place value when adding! 🙂

9. Wow! I love these ideas. I teach first grade, and the concepts is always so foreign to the students. Thank you so much!

10. excellent.. thanks alot.. i have a struggling child, i hope these works..

11. Omg, I love these idea to teach regrouping, my students are engage in the lesson rather than me the teacher have the load, thanks very much for the idea

12. Thank you so much for putting the videos on there on how to teach regrouping. I am a visual learner and seeing a video of it really really helps!

13. I’m so glad that I found this! I remember using this in Kindergarten/First Grade and it helped my babies out so much!

I am now in 3rd grade and was wondering if you have a place value mat for 3 digits?

• Hi there!

I have a place value set for second graders that may be useful for you. I have placed the link below for you to check out and see if it’s similar to what you are looking for! Thank you!
http://bit.ly/2Nya0xI

Angie Olson
Lucky Little Learners

14. What strategy can you use if a student is adding 2 digit numbers in error. For example if they add 83+39 and get 1112 for the answer.

• Hi Kandace. I suggest taking out a place value mat (I have a free template on my website) and showing the student how to solve with hands on manipulatives. Hope that helps!

15. great idea!

16. I did the post -it technique with my small group today and they loved it! One, they got to use scissors; and two they were able to physically see why the tens had to move over to the tens spot. Hopefully a few of them will be able to carry over this concept into the general education setting. =)

17. HI Angie,
A few years ago you send an email with a subtraction and addition round up. It was like a slide show with problem after problem. My kids LOVED it. I can’t find it now! Do you recall this? If so do you know how I might get a copy?

• Hi Jane. Thanks for reaching out. I do remember what file you are talking about but I can’t seem to find it anywhere! I’m so sorry!

18. thank so much for the brilliant ideas and strategies

19. Wonderful ideas.

20. Well, this is an awesome post and written very well. Your point of view is very good.

21. I love these ideas. I’m going to try them with my 2nd graders who are struggling. Thanks.

22. Love, Love, Love
Thank You!