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Home » Blog » Operations » Addition » 7 Addition with Regrouping Strategies & Tools (1, 2, & 3-Digit)

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

2nd Grade Skills, Addition, Math, Operations

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.

Addition with Regrouping can be tricky to teach 2nd grade students so this post provides addition with regrouping strategies, worksheets & activities! There is also a free place value mat!

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!

Download Place Value Mat HERE

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.

Addition with Regrouping can be tricky to teach 2nd grade students so this post provides addition with regrouping strategies, worksheets & activities! There is also a free place value mat!

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.

Addition with Regrouping can be tricky to teach 2nd grade students so this post provides addition with regrouping strategies, worksheets & activities! There is also a free place value mat!

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.

2. Post-it Note Method

3. Break It Up Method

4. Slice & Split Method

Addition With Regrouping Resources for Your Classroom

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!

Download Math Puzzles HERE

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

Join All Access to download everything we've ever made.

toothy task kits

Or... Purchase a bundle in our shop.

toothy task kits

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.

Download HERE

toothy task kits

Lucky to Learn Math

Addition & Subtraction

with Regrouping Unit


  1. Angel Honts

    I love these ideas!! Thank you so much!

  2. Sebrina Burke

    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!
    Burke's Special Kids

    • Angie Olson

      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!

      • Alyssa Duvall

        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!

        • Bailey Jordan

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

          Bailey Jordan
          Lucky Little Learners

  3. Jo-Anne Sweet on Second

    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! 🙂

    • Angie Olson

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

  4. Karyl Lawrence

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

    • Angie Olson

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

  5. Leslie Moore

    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!

    • Angie Olson

      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. Jen Bonner

    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. Alice Tan

    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. Ro

    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. Kym

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

  10. Asha

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

  11. Clara

    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. Audrey Baker-Santos

    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. jwilson9593

    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?

    • Angie Olson

      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!

      Angie Olson
      Lucky Little Learners

  14. Kandace

    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.

    • Angie Olson

      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. francis

    great idea!

  16. Tara

    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. Jane

    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?

    • Angie Olson

      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. yashaswini

    thank so much for the brilliant ideas and strategies

  19. Jasneet Kaur

    Wonderful ideas.

  20. Catie Benett

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

  21. Maria

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

  22. Heather

    Love, Love, Love
    Thank You!

  23. Gloria Boyd

    I have used many of these strategies with my second graders. I am now retired and watching my 4th grade granddaughter doing some sort of crazy stuff that must be Common Core, though South Carolina supposedly no longer uses Common Core. It is so complicated, and I want to jump in and simplify it for her.

  24. Afsheen Mohammad

    Hi I love your work it is very helpful in teaching my 2nd grader. I have a question though, his teacher sent a uestion paper and in the end of the word problem ther is a question justify why you used the strategy as compared to the rest. the base 10 blocks, number line, expanded form are all strategies for regrouping. how do I help him Justify his choice and provide and explanation

    • Jess Dalrymple

      Hi there. There are many strategies for regrouping, and some are more efficient for different equations than others. I would ask your child why they selected the strategy they used. It might be because that strategy is the one the child feels most comfortable with, or the strategy that is easiest for that specific equation.


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