How do your students react the first time you tell them they’ll be adding THREE ADDENDS?! In our classroom, shock is the overall consensus before some excitement and a little nervous-ness might set in. This is typically a new skill that they’ve never seen before and it makes them really intrigued thinking they get to add with 3 numbers instead of their normal 2.
Adding with 3 addends is a really important skill for students and can be a lot of fun when you add in a little bit of hands-on resources, and of course some engagement. This can also get really complicated for them depending on how big the numbers are so it’s super crucial to make this something that is enjoyable so they believe they can do this! In this post, you will learn some quick tips and easy tricks to engage students while helping them master this skill!!
Setting the Stage Is Simple
When I get ready to teach this skill to students, I like to hype it up for them. I always start by telling them that they are going to learn a HUGE skill that big kids do. That really perks their ears up and gets them excited to hear more.
We’ll begin by making the connection about what we already know about addition, such as we have two numbers and we add them together to get our total. Here’s where I throw the wrench in and tell them that they are going to add with 3 numbers. THEY GO CRAZY. They get so excited and that right there is half the battle. Some might see it as overwhelming or something too hard for them. This is a moment to assure them that having a growth mindset is what’s going to make this a fun challenge and they’ll be so proud once they’ve mastered it!
Concrete Comes First
Making it concrete is not only SUPER helpful for providing students a solid foundation to acquire a skill, but it’s also way more engaging. When it comes to these super tricky math skills, I have a secret tool I love to use that has been a MAJOR game changer in our classroom. It’s called the CRA Model and it has got to be one of the best differentiation tools for teaching. Learn more about it HERE!
For this particular skill, I like to start with the ‘C’ part of the CRA Model which is the concrete portion. Bust out ALL the manipulatives and let kids see what it looks like to add with 3 addends. We love using the addition mats below to give us a space to work and use the manipulatives to help them gain a deep understanding of this concept.
Now of course you’ll find that most students don’t even need the manipulatives, but by offering them the choice it provides an important scaffold if they are struggling. Students are also given the choice to use representations like circles, number lines or other drawings. To challenge those learners that are ready for abstract thinking, offer them the choice of adding the three addends without any tools.
This stage is so beneficial because not only are you providing student choice, but they are given an array of tools to meet their own specific needs. What I really love are the conversations that come from this. You’ll have some students using manipulatives, while others are starting to see patterns in the numbers and are able to quickly add the 3 numbers together in their mind. Encourage them to talk about how they are working and you’ll be so amazed at how all the information is being digested.
Below you can check out an anchor chart we build together to display all of the math tools and strategies we have in our toolbox.
Make it FUN!
Now you know we have to add in all the fun right?! Here are some of my and the students absolute favorite activities to use in this unit!
3 Addends Mat
This super engaging activity is low prep and so much fun! Simply three different colored manipulatives such as unifix cubes, colored counters, or anything else you have on hand in a bin and print these mats for your students. They will grab a handful of manipulatives, sort them by color, and add them up!
QR Task Cards
These task cards are another super easy and fun way to practice adding three addends and of course solving word problems. They each have their own QR code for students to check their answers as they work through them. Talk about making your life simple! You can use these task cards as a practice center, use them to play four corners, scoot, and so much more!
3 Addend Self Checking Task Cards
Spin and Add
Spinners make everything more exciting. Who doesn’t love to spin something and have the anticipation of what you’ll land on?! Spin all three spinners and add to get your total. Simple as that! This game is another engaging print and go activity that your students will have a blast with!
Spin, Add and Cover
Take your spinners up a notch with this fun game. You can use that previous spin and add mat with these so students can challenge each other to a little competition! Same concept applies- spin all three spinners, add to get your total and then cover your answer if it’s on your mat. First one to cover the sheet wins!
Unknown 3 Addend
When the students are ready to challenge themselves even more with three addends, this activity is for them! These cards allow them to practice a missing addend. They can use manipulatives, drawings, or mental math to help them solve for the unknown addend.
Add The Room
This activity will have your students turn into hunters to find each question. Teachers will place these addition cards around the room and when students find them, they’ll add them up and record their answers on their recording sheet. It’s a great activity to get kids up and moving while practice this skill!
Solve and Sort
How adorable are these solve and sort three addend planters?! Students will solve the equations and “plant” the carrots into the correct planter. There are totals included from 10-20 and each planter box will have three corresponding carrots that match with it. Have fun farming!!
Flip And Solve
This fun flip and solve addition game has students race from start to finish while adding three addends. Two players will start at “1” and “2 on the start line. Each student will flip over their colored cards and solve the equation. As soon as they get the right answer, they get to move one space towards the finish line and move on to flip their next problem. The first person to the end wins! Don’t forget to grab this as your exclusive freebie below!
Grab this free resource now!
Addition Rainbow Math Craft
You know I love a great craft! These rainbow clouds are sure to brighten up your space while providing amazing practice for adding three addends. This activity comes with clouds for totals from 10-20, as well as a blank cloud for students to make their own. If students are still working on two addends, there are also differentiated addition strips. Students will create 6 different addition equations and glue them to the bottom of their cloud in a rainbow pattern. Super fun AND super cute!!
Anchor Their Learning
I love making adorable anchor charts but let’s be honest, I’m no artist. Solution to my problem? Traceable anchor charts! Simply project these templates on your anchor chart paper and trace away!! Included are completed and blank ones so you can make them your own if you’d like to change a component. Check out THIS GROWING Traceable Anchor Chart Bundle with all the math strategy anchor charts including 3 addends.
Below you’ll see the jam packed math centers bundle that includes ALL these engaging activities and more… with a FREEBIE of course! This bundle will help you have engaging, fun, and hands on math activities for the ENTIRE YEAR. Make math a time your students are sure to love and remember! This is also a GROWING bundle because as I come up with more hands on ideas, I continue to add them to the bundle! So each new resource that gets included, you get for FREE!
I hope you enjoyed learning some fun ways to help students become masters at adding three addends. Let’s help students not only be successful, but have FUN doing it! Don’t forget to subscribe to my email list! Not only will you get the most up to date tips, tricks, and classroom projects… and of course more fun FREEBIES including the Flip and Solve Addition FREEBIE! You will also have exclusive access to tons of digital how to videos! If you would like to learn about this and other things happening in my classroom follow me @sweetnsauerfirsties on Instagram.
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