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Basic Number Facts and Operations

It is very important that students see mathematics, and the calculations they perform, as part of their daily life. Providing opportunities to apply basic concepts and operations in daily activities will reinforce students' skills and motivate them to progress in mathematics. They can use addition to figure total amounts of toys or snacks, and to keep track of their bank accounts or team equipment. Students can use subtraction to make comparisons between what they have and what they need for a game or other activity, to budget, and to calculate remaining items as they are used, or to calculate change when a purchase is made. They can multiply to figure larger totals, and to transform units from one measure into another. They can divide to determine equal portions of items, or to figure daily averages for sports scores or percent scores for quizzes or games.

In order for students to calculate using these four basic operations, they must first have developed basic concepts (including more, less, many, etc.), one to one correspondence, the concept of sets, and basic number sense. As students begin to learn to calculate, the following teaching considerations should help:

Activities for teaching basic operations

Suggestions for teaching addition and subtraction

While the above tips relate to teaching any of the basic arithmetic facts, the following suggestions could be especially appropriate for working on addition and subtraction:

Suggestions for teaching multiplication and division

Following are several suggestions that might be especially helpful for teaching multiplication and division:


Petreshene, S. S. (1985). Mind joggers! 5 to 15 minute activities that make kids think. West Nyack, NY: The Center for Applied Research in Education, Inc.