Addition Strategies: Tally Marks

Contributor: Samantha Penna. Lesson ID: 11615

What are "tally marks"? That's a fancy name for little lines that help you solve addition problems! You've probably seen them and they're easy to use! You'll get lots of practice and a simple project!



learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Primary (K-2)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!


Have you ever used tally marks to solve a math problem? If not, you'll want to learn about them!

  • How can you use them to solve the problem below?

3 + 3 = ?

There are so many ways to solve addition problems.

If you haven't yet studied the first of the Related Lessons in this Addition Strategies series, found in the right-hand sidebar, please do so now!

In this lesson, you will learn how to use tally marks to solve addition problems.

  • Have you ever used them before?

Tell your parent or teacher if you have used them before.

Look at the tally marks above. If you count each set of tally marks, you will notice the number of tally marks matches the number written below it. Look at the five tally marks above for the number 5. Notice that when you get to five, you cross the fifth tally mark over the other four tally marks.

To help you remember this, you will make a tally mark guide. Follow the directions below:

  1. Take out ten sticky notes.
  2. Line them up on your table or desk.
  3. Start with the number 1 on the first sticky note in line. Number the sticky notes up to 10.
  4. Each sticky note should have a number.
  5. Your numbers should be in order from 1 to 10.
  6. Draw the amount of tally marks that matches the number written on the sticky note.
  7. Make sure all ten sticky notes have tally marks drawn on them!
  8. Ask your parent or teacher to check your work.

You can use these sticky notes to help you throughout the lesson. Watch Using tally marks by Kelsey Ligman (below) to see how you can use tally marks to solve a math problem:


Did you see how the person in the video drew tally marks below each number in the addition problem? Then she counted all the tally marks together to find her answer. Use this strategy to find the answer to the next problem:

Do your tally marks look like the ones below? Count all the tally marks to find your answer. Share your answer with your parent or teacher.

Did you count five tally marks in all? Great work! Two plus three equals five.

Move on to the Got It? section to get some extra practice using tally marks.

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