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An Extra Pair of Hands

Sometimes you just need an extra pair of hands to help you solve a challenging calculation, especially when you are learning how to add and subtract! Add on and take away fingers as you practice arithmetic strategies.

  • Grade 1
    Grade 2
  • 30 to 60 minutes
  • Directions

    1. Learning addition by adding on can be a challenge when students add on beyond ten. Here’s an extra pair of hands to the rescue! Extra hands can also help when teaching children how to subtract by adding up to a landmark number (a number that is simple to work with, like 10, 20, 30, etc.) and then adding up to the target number from the landmark number.
    2. Students work together to trace their hands on a dry erase board using Crayola Dry-Erase Crayons. Most students can trace their non-dominant hand by themselves, but may need assistance from a partner to trace the other hand. Give children a minute or two to exercise their creative spirits by adding fingernails, skin creases, rings and bandages. Trace your own hands on a large dry-erase board so you can demonstrate strategies for students.
    3. Strategies to demonstrate may include: Add On Beyond Ten: Make 6 fingers with your real hands, add on seven more using the rest of your fingers plus 3 more with your extra pair of hands. Subtraction: Erase fingers as you compute subtraction problems with a minuend larger than 10. What’s the Difference? Compare amounts by computing the difference between 2 numbers. “Your hands show 3. The extra pair of hands shows 10. What’s the difference?” Show children how to match finger for finger then count the extra fingers to find the difference. Explore Tens and Ones: Have some children create extra pairs of hands showing 10 fingers and others showing numbers less than ten. Sort by those that show tens and those that show ones. Count by tens. Add up all the ones. Group ones to form tens. Landmarks and Targets: When subtracting across a ten (such as 12-7), demonstrate how to add on to the subtrahend (7) to get up to a landmark number (10) using your real fingers, then add on to the landmark number to get to the target number (12).
  • Standards

    LA: Ask and answer questions about what a speaker says in order to gather additional information or clarify something that is not understood.

    MATH: Represent and solve problems involving addition and subtraction.

    MATH: Understand and apply properties of operations and the relationship between addition and subtraction.

    MATH: Add and subtract within 20.

    MATH: Work with addition and subtraction equations.

    MATH: Extend the counting sequence.

    VA: Students will initiate making works of art and design by experimenting, imagining and identifying content.

  • Adaptations

    Students who are still developing tracing skills may need support and assistance when tracing. Provide plenty of opportunity to practice tracing hands and other objects using Crayola Dry-Erase Crayons on dry-erase boards. Daily practice can improve confidence and fine motor skills.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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