Addition And Subtraction And Problem Solving Using Manipulatives

Addition And Subtraction Using Manipulatives

Manipulatives make math EASY!

Addition and subtraction are inverse functions and you can't talk about one without mentioning the other...and problem solving becomes "visually obvious" using manipulatives. The idea is to use the blocks in such a way that the student can not fail to grasp the concepts, once they understand the concepts all we can do is change the numbers.

Understanding the five basic concepts makes math easier, and remember you could just as easily start with division or multiplication. All we are doing is counting when we start off.

Here are my five concepts/principles for teaching with manipulatives.

  • Skill Set.
  • Mind Set.
  • Concepts.
  • Tools.
  • Practice.

I explain them and more in this short 20 minute screencast:

This screencast is aimed at parents and teachers a who want to get the most out their blocks...not just use them to model problems out of a text book. Listen for the concepts covered, besides the basic concepts and principles there are subtle tips and "secrets" revealed that allow you to become a great teacher using manipulatives. For even more on addends and their importance here is a long article called "The Importance Of Addends."  You can tell it's about addends and that addends are important by the snappy title; goes even more in depth on using addends for subtraction making change etc.


Anybody can fool around with base ten blocks and get some results but if you apply the information here you will see you will get fantastic results with a broad spectrum of students. The basic skills of adding and subtracting can be mastered easily and without much difficulty (all it will take is some practice) if they understand that

  • numbers are made up of other numbers 
  • numbers want to be ten and
  • when you do subtraction if you don't have enough you just talk to the ten.

And then add the the addend and you're done. (Watch the video and it will quickly make sense.)

I didn't cover integers or problems where you have enough; 7 - 5 for example is easy, because they can see the addend and that there is two left. But what happens when it's 12 -7?

40 Minutes From Now You Be Well Ahead Of Your Peers.

Here is more information in video form, another 20 minutes. After watching these two videos,  you will be ahead of 95% of people who attempt to teach basic mathematics out there. These concepts are HUGE and teachers are consistently amazed by them. As I have said 12 years of school and college and most people have never seen add the addend for subtraction.

These are "million dollar ideas."

You will be amazed at how much math you can teach in a short amount of time using manipulatives once you get going. Show them three or four examples and then make them get their hands on the blocks and do it, make them make the trades, watch other videos on my blog and youtube with actual students so you can see theory in practice.

The video covers a lot in a short amount of time, even though it's 20 minutes long, there's more on "what's under the cup" elsewhere, and for more problem solving just click the Problem Solving Tab. You get a fuller explanation of Hero Zero. The example in the vid is a little rushed.

Get your hands on the blocks!

If you don't have a set of blocks you need to get a set of blocks. Click on the "products & passwords" tab (or that link) for more info.  You can use base ten blocks you already have or look on ebay but I think you will find they are a good deal.  If you already have blocks then all you'll need is a password. Passwords are now sold separately, but you can get one for as little as 6 bucks a month and that get you in to hours and hours worth of videos...it will take you months to get through them all. Sorry. There is no royal road to mathematics. The only way to learn mathematics is to do mathematics and two minute videos aren't going to cut it.

A password will eventually become of interest when you get through all the free stuff you find here. People are amazed at how much more stuff they get with a password. Don't get overwhelmed. Just start watch videos and play with blocks. DON'T just watch though get a set of blocks out and follow along. Math is NOT a spectator sport. You have to get your hands on the blocks. Same with your students. Getting your hands on the blocks increases understanding many-fold.

Here is a video where we build an addends house and of course learn addends. Click on the tabs for addition and subtraction read the pages watch the videos click the links. This was a very basic training to get you started. There is plenty more where that came from as they say.

ANYBODY can do this!

You can make a huge difference in your child's math education. Many people think they can't teach their kids math, but ANYBODY can do this. I can teach you math and I can teach you to teach your kids math. 25 years of experience says so.  If you can speak English for damh sure I can teach you to teach math. 

I hope you understand by now that you have the opportunity to change your child's life forever using this method by making math fun, EZ, and assessable for them. Get them started on the right foot, create the unshakeable belief that math is easy and fun, then watch the doors open for your child for years to come. Small investment now. Big dividends later.

Get My FREE Subtraction Manual.

Want a 20 page PDF that covers Subtraction specifically? Just give me your email address and I'll give you a book I wrote called Supremely Simple Subtraction. Click that, put your email in, and it's yours FREE. It's a Manual that shows you how to make subtraction easy and even fun. It covers everything you see in the video above and more...

Already have my SSS manual? Great! Here's another freebie...Games and Activities. I'm working on a super new and improved version but for now here is this one absolutely FREE no email required.

Go BACK to the addition page.
Go to a page about addends.
Go to a blog post about using algebra for teaching addends and multiplication.
Parent/Teacher Training.

"In most sciences one generation tears down what another has built and what one has established another undoes. In mathematics alone each generations adds a new story to the old structure." ~Hermann Hankel

"Teaching high school, in addition to knowing one's subject matter thoroughly and being able to convey it to others, requires the grit of a long-distance runner, the stamina of a boxer going 15 rounds, the temperament of a juggler and the street smarts of a three-card monte dealer." ~Professor Larry Cuban

Note: from time to time the passwords change. Simply e-mail me for a new one or a new passport as the case may be. Annual passes are good for one year, lifetime passes are good for as long as the site remains up, (site has been up for eight years now).  All single page passwords have lifetime renewal.

Get a PASSPORT! The "SITEWIDE" Password gets you in almost everywhere BUT the parent teacher training and two other pages. What do you get for a password? ← Click to find out.

Already have one but it doesn't work anymore? Hit the Contacts tab and email me at gmail for the new one.


Sitewide Password Has Changed as of 14FEB2017.
Training Password Has Changed as of 14FEB2017.
EZPZ & Trig to 8 year olds passwords have changed as of 14FEB2017.

NO MORE LIFETIME PASSES. NO MORE SUBSCRIPTIONS.


One Time Pay
People are shockedand amazed when they see how much they get for a password.
Annual Options.


Most bang for your buck is a Sitewide or AP2 Sitewide plus Teacher Training.
Remember these are only good for 1 year.