I begin teaching addition and subtraction with NO equations. This allows my learners to focus solely on the concrete skill of adding and subtracting. Just like writing, you teach your learners the sounds of the alphabet before you expect them to create a word on paper. The same goes for math skills, allow your learners to acquire the skill hands-on before you expect them to create or write an equation.
When my students are able to model addition and subtraction through word problems or real life situations, then the equations or abstract come in. This game is my go-to concrete to abstract activity for addition and subtraction...paper plate, maniupulatives and dice!
I prepared the activity by getting materials for the season, which was fall. I picked up this plate and dice from Target and the leaves from Michaels. For the activity, we simply roll the dice and count out the correct number of manipulatives. Now, we are able to put the abstract in action by writing the equation they just created. I begin by modeling this and then they are able to do the same.
One of the best things about this activity is that it can be used for both addition and subtraction. Just flip the plate upside down and reverse the equation by rolling one dice and subtracting. This is a great way to introduce fact families and how addition and subtraction work together.