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Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.

A Fun Game To Learn Addition and Subtraction

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Understanding addition and subtraction within the number 20 is a First Grade Common Core goal. Here is an easy and fun way to help your child practice these skills to increase math fluency.  

Start with addition, until she can easily add the numbers. Then, move on to subtraction. This simple activity is for two players. This could be you and your child, your first grade child with an older sibling, or two first graders.


All you will need is:

A pair of dice for each player

A flat playing surface  


Directions for addition:

One player rolls the dice and adds the dots for the total number

The next player does the same

The player with the highest total wins

Have your child pay attention to all “doubles” that are rolled, to easily learn double facts. (1+1, 2+2, 3+3, etc.)


Directions for subtraction:

One player rolls the dice and adds the dots and says the total

The second player takes one die away saying, for example, “You had 8 dots.  I took away 5 dots. How many dots are left?  Then say the entire number sentence 8-5=3.

Once he can easily do addition and subtraction with two dice, increase the difficulty. Use three dice for each player, for a maximum total of 18 that can be rolled.

For a younger child use one die for each player and compare which player has more, and how much more. For example, if you roll a six and she rolls a four, you have two more that she has. Conversely, roll to determine who has less, and how much less. 

Comparing numbers and easily adding and subtracting to 10 and 20 can help your child understand the important relationship between addition and subtraction.



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