Mental Math is the greatest way of teaching math facts because it teaches automaticity which means that kids are performing equations quickly and efficiently. Additionally, when you take the time to teach students a variety of mental math strategies, you are equipping them with the skills that they need to develop their own strategies and solve more complex math equations.

When I first released the Mental Math Strategy Collection, I had a few people asking about which order the units should be taught in. To answer this question, I have created the You Tube video below. The video briefly explains each of the addition strategies that I’ve included in the collection, the order that I recommend teaching them in as well as some tips for managing your time when teaching. If you have purchased any or all of my mental math units, this video is definitely worth watching! Even if you haven’t purchased my units, but do teach mental math in your classroom, I hope that you will gain some useful tips from this video.

If you’re not up for watching a video today, I have included the entire write up below the video so that you can read through at your leisure. so grab a cup of coffee, and let’s talk about math! Enjoy!

The addition portion of the Mental Math Strategy Collection consists of six units: Counting On, Doubles, Doubles Plus One, Making Ten, Making Multiples of Ten and Front End Addition. Although there are more strategies out there that you may want to teach, I consider these six to be the most important.

Here is a brief description of each strategy. This is also the order that I recommend teaching them in:

1. Counting On – Counting On is generally the first mental math strategy that should be taught, as it is the easiest for most students. Chances are that some or many of your students are already using this strategy without knowing it. Counting on means that you start with the biggest number in an equation, and then count up. For example, in the equation 5+3, you want students to start with the “5” in their heads, and then count up, “6, 7, 8.” This is to discourage students from counting like, “1, 2, 3, 4, 5…..6, 7, 8.” Students also need to be taught that if an equation looks like this: “2+6,” they still should start with the bigger number in this case “6” and count up “7, 8.”

**Doubles**– Doubles is the next strategy that I recommend teaching, as it usually comes quite easily to students. Doubles are all around us; think of fingers and toes – 5+5, wheels on a car – 2+2, or the eggs in a carton – 6+6. When students know their doubles well, they should no longer have to think about the equation to solve it. Rather, the answer becomes automatic. This means that the student has developed automaticity. For example, when a student sees the equation 8+8, he should know that it equals 16 without even stopping to think. Building a strong foundation of doubles will help students with the next strategy, Doubles Plus One.

**Doubles Plus One**– This strategy is a natural progression from the doubles. It includes using a known fact and building on it. For example, in the equation 5+6, a student could think, “I know that 5+5 makes 10, and one more makes 11.” This strategy will likely require a bit more teaching than the previous two, but it will be well worth it; when students know their doubles and doubles plus one facts, they know 25% of the addition table!!

**Making Ten**– The making ten strategy involves memorizing the number combinations that add to ten. This includes 7 and 3, 8 and 2, & 5 and 5. Again, it is important that students develop automaticity with regards to these facts so that when they see a combination, they quickly know that it is a making ten combination. Once students begin to use this strategy, “counting on” becomes unnecessary in some circumstances.

**Making Multiples of Ten**– This strategy is a natural follow-up to making ten, as it uses the same number combinations in a different way. When teaching this strategy, students will learn to use the making ten facts in equations such as 27+3. In this case, students will see the ones digits and realize that 7 and 3 make 10, so 27 and 3 makes 30.

**Front End Addition**– This is perhaps one of the most powerful mental math strategies out there. Front end addition involves adding numbers from left to right, eliminating the need for carrying. Don’t dismiss the importance of teaching this strategy if it is an appropriate curricular expectation for your students! It will transform the way that they add, making them efficient and effective. Although many parents and some teachers are unfamiliar with this type of addition, it can transform people into believers pretty quickly! I have written another blog post all about front end addition, which you can see by clicking here.

**UPDATE: NOVEMBER 2015 – I have created a Math Station that strategically teaches all of the mental math strategies from this post, as well as many others. The Addition Station is self-paced and student-centered so that students are always working to their full potential. Read more about it HERE.**

I love your blog and math strategies. I am trying to improve my math instruction this year and your strategies are great! Thanks for all the ideas.

Hi…My little kid can do addition and subtraction but like you said he still goes back to counting.."1, 2, 3, etc.." Thanks for the counting on strategy, I will try this technique to advance his math skills… 🙂

These strategies are great…they should also be taught to the parents, so parents can better support their children’s learning.

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Awesome strategies and I enjoyed reading your blog.