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Repeated Addition in the 2nd grade Classroom

In 2nd grade, repeated addition isn’t a standalone standard in the Common Core State Standards for Math. It is a hidden gem in 2.OA.4 and it is described as, “…an equation to express the total as a sum of equal addends.”

If that doesn’t sound like poetry, I don’t know what does. (excuse my inner math nerd!)

Repeated Addition Importance

Prerequisite skills:

Students should be able to understand and create equal groups. Because repeated addition is tied to the standard about arrays, leading to multiplication in third, understanding that the same number is being added over and over because they are adding equal groups.

Students should also be mastering their basic facts. They don’t need to have them all memorized but they should be solid in the strategies to solve their math facts, (make 10, add 1, add 2, doubles, doubles+1). This will help them when the number of repeats gets larger, they have strategies to fall back on instead of feeling overwhelmed.

Relates to these standards: In 2nd grade, standards that relate to or build-up to repeated addition skills include 2.OA.2, 2.OA.3, 2.OA.4, 2.NBT.2. Check out these standards on the official Common Core State Standard Site.

Ways to teach Repeated Addition

  • The carrot method: Students add two equal addends using a carrot below them students write the sum. They continue until all have been added. See the example below.
  • Skip counting: Students should have experience skip counting 2’s and 5’s. I like to start with these numbers when introducing the skip counting strategy. Students catch on quickly. Practicing skip counting by other numbers like 3, 4, 6,7,8, and 9 can be a challenge but a great extension for students.
  • Arrays: bringing equal groups and repeated addition together. Using arrays is at the heart of the standard and helps students visualize what they are actually adding together. Also, if students are struggling they may count all to get the answer.

Differentiating

Repeated addition sets the stage for multiplication. But it is also a great foundation for learning to find area in 3rd grade. Understanding area includes students relating arrays, repeated addition, and multiplication, thus setting the stage for success in multiple standards in the upcoming grades.

In 2nd grade the standard referred to says “Use addition to find the total number of objects arranged in rectangular arrays with up to 5 rows and up to 5 columns; write an equation to express the total as a sum of equal addends.”

That means the largest and most seemingly difficult sentence will be 5+5+5+5+5=25, to meet the standard. Let this understanding guide you as you differentiate.

Intensive

  • Smaller numbers: Start repeated addition using 1’s, 2’s, and 3’s.
  • Practice skip counting: Start with skip counting by 1’s, 2’s, and 5’s. Practice them in a song or during a transition. Point out the patterns to students. Then when students come across a repeated addition with 1’s, 2’s or 5’s they feel less intimidated. Skip counting with money is a fun way to engage students. Check out more counting money practice here.
  • Fewer numbers to add: A double is repeated addition! If a student is starting from the beginning, start them with their doubles facts, then slowly add a third addend.
  • Creating Equal groups: have students create equal groups with math manipulatives. Then have them write a repeated addition sentence to match. This helps them understand the amounts

Extension

  • Relate repeated addition to multiplication: There are always a handful of students ready to jump into multiplication. I like to use this activity to relate repeated addition to multiplication.
  • Solve mentally: Challenge students to use mental strategies instead of the carrot method or arrays.
  • Skip count 3’s, 4’s, 6’s, 7’s, 8’s, and 9’s. This gets them ready for fluently multiplying and seeing patterns that develop with skip counting. These numbers aren’t in a standard for 2nd grade so it goes beyond what they need to know.

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