Addition Facts Activities

Use these Montessori addition printables described to help children practice addition facts up to 18. These activities should not be used as a replacement for Montessori math materials. Instead, these printables can be a fun addition to your addition materials to help your students on their way to memorization and mastery!

“Children display a universal love of mathematics, which is par excellence the science of precision, order, and intelligence.”

Maria Montessori

Montessori Addition Facts

Math! Some people love it, others not so much, but regardless, basic math is a crucial skill to master — and the more fully mathematical foundations are mastered with joy and confidence, the more easeful the entire process of math will be throughout life.

It’s never too early to make learning math fun, interesting, and exciting. As guides, we do this with a caring sentiment and calm concept presentation, along with the supportive materials and interesting, varied, and ample opportunities for practice. 

At the 3-6 level, Montessori children explore the skill based concepts of mathematics with beautiful manipulated materials. These include but are not limited to: the pink tower and brown stair, the red and blue rods, the spindle box, bead chains, and sandpaper numbers. The child strives for mastery over sequence counting and these basic materials through repetition.

Note: A child may still be working with the materials and also be ready to progress to computation. Montessori materials are designed for the child to return to over many years in different capacities – they grow with the child. Take the bead chains for example: they are used in primary for teaching counting, skip counting, and returned to in elementary for advanced skip counting, multiplication, squaring, and cubing.

Once the primary age child is proficient in base number recognition and basic sequence counting, they are ready to progress on to number building and basic computation materials such as the golden beads with the bank game and the bead stair with the snake game, and the stamp game. These are inspiring materials and great fun for the child to explore computation. They actually teach how to do math, rather than simply the rote memorization of math. While the child “works” with these materials, visually and kinesthetically they teach the actual concepts of math and prepare the child for abstraction. Unlike in rote learning where the child is told to just “solve the sum like this,” and not to worry about why or the deeper concept and further applications. 

Understand the why

One of the great joys of Montessori’s math methodology is that it allows the child to understand why math is important, interesting, fun, useful, and most of all why we go about doing math the way we do.

  • Why do we add right to left
  • Why do we have the decimal system?
  • Why do we use base 10 in the snake and spindle games?

While a child (usually) won’t ask these questions directly, the materials and method expect that the child is asking them internally, just as children as why about all the topics and experiences in their lives.

Understanding the math whys is not only something that builds interest and confidence in math right from the beginning, but it also gives the child the confidence to grow away from the materials and into abstraction when the time is right.

They know why and how math works through their interactions with the materials, and a supportive guide. So when the child is compelled to move beyond the materials and into abstracted math problem solving with only pencil and paper, the child is prepared and ready to make that leap. 

Fluency with math facts

Yet, sometimes very well intended Montessori guides believe that the materials will do all the work. Thinking that a Montessori child doesn’t need guided extension practice in fact memorization when they have the addition board to work on independently, for example, is a delightful idea. But to the detriment of many elementary students, it’s not the actual case. There is no substitute for a variety of guided and independent practice experiences in various venues. This goes for anything in life, from math to singing to mowing the lawn. 

The fact of the matter is, children need to practice and memorize their basic math facts. The fact boards alone, and independently worked with, just aren’t enough. This may sound like a condemnation of the materials, but it isn’t. Yes, those materials are great, but by the time a child reaches elementary they are often bored of those materials. From the start, primary age children need many different experiences with math facts to solidify the memorization of the basic facts of addition (and subtraction, multiplication, and division). 

A diversity of experiences with math is what sets children up for long term math success. Excuses abound like, “But math drills are boring to children,” and questions like, “Isn’t old school style memorization against Montessori method?”. No one wants to sit home and be drilled with flashcards. We can easily make math fact drills diverse, interesting, and attractive to the child. Fact drills can be made more fulfilling, practical, and even games. That is the Montessori method!

The children need to see and experience basic math facts in many different forms many, many times until the sums come to mind second nature.

Fairly splitting a check at a restaurant, a quick calculation of a percent off discount at a shop, instantly recognizing a clerk’s mistake in your change at a shop, balancing a bank statement, these are all basic life skills that require on the spot recall of math facts. These are Math in practical life! Real life application teaches the importance of, and motivates, learning quick math recall. A strong foundation of math facts and quick recall of sums is one of the main ways that we can truly prepare the child for their world with math. 

Basic math computation forms the building blocks of high level mathematical computation. Algebra is 10x more difficult if one can’t quickly and correctly compute the facts that make up the equation. Just like we help our children practice phonics to become fluent readers, we must also support math fact fluency. Just like in reading, math fact fluency prevents frustration in simple and complex mathematical skill building. 

When the time comes, and the child is ready and compelled to step away from materials into abstraction (always knowing they can return to a material for support if feeling insecure or uncertain) their strong foundation and memorization of the basic facts (eventually in all 4 operations) will be their safety lines. A child’s quick recall of math facts will prove to them right away that they can do math in abstraction. The leap to abstraction will be made with even greater confidence and less likelihood of frustration. Keeping the child’s confident positive relationship with math and their excitement for learning and building on new concepts is exactly what the Montessori Method intended — for math and life. 

Practice Math Facts

To reinforce fluency in math facts, you can offer several activities to your children/students.

Addition booklets

Children can write the answer on the blank space provided. Use Montessori beads to help count the answer.

Make it more challenging! Now, the second addend is missing in this version. Children can write the missing number on the line. They can use the bead bars to help them find the answer. These come in ascending order and in random order.

Addition Sheets Equations

Practice addition facts using the Montessori bead bars. Answer strips are provided or the child can write the answer.

Print the full sheet and offer the bead bars. Children can select the bead bar that represents the answer.

Alternatively, you can cut out each strip separately.

Offer the printable bead bars or number cards for children to place on the empty space. They can glue the answers or you can laminate for repeated use.

Equation Slips

80 equation slips are included for children to practice math facts up to 18.

Cut out each equation. The number on the right side of the sheet is the answer. Keep the answer attached. Do not cut apart vertically.

Fold each equation in the middle as shown. Use a small piece of double-sided tape to secure the two sides to each other.

Happy learning!

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