Use everyday events to make up a problem for children to solve. Provide paper and pencil so children can draw pictures or symbols to represent the people or items in the problem.

For example, “This morning I saw Juan, Ana, and Lisa at the science table. Draw a picture of this.” (Let the children draw.)”How many people were at the table?” “Write 3 under Juan, Ana, and Lisa.” Then say, “Then I saw Keera, and Ben come to the table. Draw them at the table. How many more people came to the science table?” (Let them draw and answer.) “Write 2 under Keera and Ben.” “So how much is three people plus two more people? How many total are now at the science table?” (Let them shout it out.) Write 5 on the bottom of your picture.

The children should be able to immediately know (subitize) the two sets of 3 and 2. They will probably count the total by pointing to each person in the picture. The concern here is for children to understand and be able to combine small sets, not learning formal addition symbols and procedures. Children are also able to write some symbols corresponding to a number, but may not do them accurately yet.

Learning to add and subtract starts with combining sets of like things and adding them up. Early childhood educators can encourage parents by giving them examples of what they are doing at school with simple activities, as well as providing suggestions for similar activities that can be done at home (e.g., drawing pairs of socks to find the total number of socks being worn in the family).

** North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 2015**

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