Understanding Addition/Subtraction


The lesson helps young students understand addition and subtraction emphasizing the place value.  The use of pictures and drawings is also encouraged to help students “see” addition and subtraction.  In this lesson, when subtracting, the top number is always larger so borrowing is not needed.   The lesson may be used in conjunction with other lessons related to addition and subtraction or place value.

Understanding Addition/Subtraction Lesson Plan Includes:

  • Full Teacher Guidelines with Creative Teaching Ideas
  • Instructional Content Pages about Understanding Addition/Subtraction
  • Hands-on homework activities giving students practice on Understanding Addition/Subtraction
  • Common Core State Standards
  • Many Additional Links and Resources
  • Built for Grades 1-2 but can be adapted for other grade levels.

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The lesson explains basic addition and subtraction while emphasizing the importance of lining up place values. In this lesson, when subtracting, the top number is always larger so borrowing is not needed. The lesson can be used in conjunction with other addition or subtraction lessons, or lessons relating to place value.

Sample classroom Procedures: 

  1. Begin by reminding students of the place values – tens and ones.
  2. While reading the content pages, reinforce place value and give students additional examples of two-digit and one-digit addition and subtraction problems in order to help them practice the new algorithm. Use the additional resources to enhance understanding.
  3. Introduce the notes on understanding addition and subtraction. Have students practice problems with addition and subtraction.  Use the additional resources to enhance understanding.
  4. Have students practice problems using the tens and ones mat with manipulatives in order to reinforce grouping ten ones into a single ten.
  5. Follow Activity page with students. Hand out a bag of bottle caps to each group of students.  Have students work individually or with a partner to draw bottle caps and record their answers.
  6. Distribute Practice page. Check and review the students’ responses as a class.
  7. Distribute the Homework page. Have students work a few problems at the beginning of the next class to reinforce the grouping of tens and ones.
  8. In closing, ask students to explain what happens where there are more than 10 ones in the ones place.
  9. Allow for responses and discussion.

Common Core State Standards: 


Class Sessions (45 minutes): 1 class session

Additional Resources:

Many more teaching resources in Download!

Want more math resources? Check out our other Math Lesson Plans!

Additional information

Grade Level

1st Grade, 2nd Grade



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Ami H.


Great summary of place value and its application to actual problem solving