Addition Strategies: Counting On

Contributor: Samantha Penna. Lesson ID: 11617

Do you have friends you can count on to help you? In addition to friends, you can count on your fingers! You can use your fingers to count on to solve addition problems! Make your own finger computer!


Counting and Cardinality, Operations and Algebraic Thinking, Whole Numbers and Operations

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

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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  • What can you count on to solve addition problems?
  • How about using your fingers?

They go with you everywhere you go!


Addition problems can sometimes be challenging!

  • Have you ever gotten stuck on an addition problem?

Don't worry! This new strategy will make the addition a breeze!

In this lesson, you will use your fingers to count on. When you count on, you start with one number in an addition problem and count up from that number.

Give your fingers a good stretch and prepare them to solve math problems!


  • Are your fingers ready to do some work?


Take a look at the problem below.

4 + 2 =

The first thing you want to do when counting on is look at the first number in your addition problem.

  • What is the first number you see?

That's right! The first number is the number 4.

4 + 2 =

It is time to put those fingers to work!

Hold up four fingers. Count to make sure you have four fingers up. Keep those fingers up as you read on.

  • What number is next in the addition problem?

That's correct! The next number in the addition problem is the number 2.

4 + 2 =

  • Do you still have your four fingers up?

Fantastic! Two is the second part of the problem.

  • How many more fingers should you put up?

That's right! You need to put up two more fingers. Hold up two more fingers.

  • How many fingers do you have up in all?

That's correct! You have six fingers up.

The answer to your problem is shown below.

4 + 2 = 6

You can use this strategy for smaller addition problems.

  • What should you do if you run into a problem with bigger numbers, like the one below?

6 + 5 =

The first thing you should do is remember the largest number in the problem.

  • Which number is bigger: five or six?

That's correct! Six is the bigger number in this problem.

6 + 5 =

Push the number six into your brain. You will need this number later.

  • Which number was smaller?

That's right! The five in the addition problem is smaller than the six.

6 + 5 =

Hold up five fingers. This is the tricky part. Make sure you take your time.

  • Do you still have six in your brain?


Start with the number six and count on using your fingers. As you count each finger, put it down. Make sure you count up from six as you put down each finger.

Once you reach the number where all your fingers are down, that is your answer.

  • Did you count on to eleven?

Great! This is what your written answer would look like.

6 + 5 = 11

  • Are you getting the hang of counting on?

This strategy can help you solve addition problems.

Move to the Got It? section to practice solving addition problems with your fingers.

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