Teaching addition and subtraction for mastery

Thank you to Caroline Clissold for these practical ways to help children acquire mastery in these two operations.

Following on from this month’s article on mastery in practice, here are some ideas for how you could help children acquire mastery in addition and subtraction. These ideas are specifically targeted at Year 2 but can be adapted for any year group.

First of all consider:

  • What is the ‘big picture’ in this concept?
  • What will be your starting point?
  • How will you explore addition and subtraction in tandem?
  • How can you draw out the idea of total, difference, inverse?
  • What vocabulary will you introduce?
  • What activities could you give the children to develop and deepen their understanding?
  • What activities will offer variance (intelligent practice)?
  • How will you teach the concept of exchange?
  • How can this be accessed by all?

Here are some examples of practice activities that you could give to the children:

Basic practice

23 + 13
33 + 23
43 + 33
153 + 143
23 – 13
33 – 23
43 – 33
153 - 43

What do you notice?

Practice within a context

Cut 4 strips of paper to these lengths:


Find the totals of different pairs.

Find the differences between different pairs.

Digging deeper

Use addition to fill in the missing numbers

digging deeper.

Can you give me a pair of numbers with a difference of 12? And another.....and another.....and another?

What do you notice about your numbers?

We hope that you can make use of some of these ideas when considering mastery in your teaching. Let us know of any other ideas you have on Twitter @Risingstarsedu!



Mathematics, Maths for the More Able, New Curriculum Mental Maths Tests, New Curriculum Primary English, Mathematics and Science, Rising Stars Mathematics

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