Addition and Subtraction Fluency Set of Tasks

Author: YouCubed

  • Description
  • Files

What we like about this set of tasks


  • Addresses standards: 1.OA.C.6 and MP.5
  • Uses the relationship between addition and subtraction to help students develop fluency with addition facts for standard 1.OA.C.6
  • Builds on students' understanding of decomposing numbers in different ways
  • Includes the use of tools (e.g., concrete models) to reinforce the conceptual understanding that anchors fluency (MP.5)
  • Part of a carefully considered progression toward fluency and memory with single-digit sums

In the classroom:

  • Allows teachers to choose targeted sums to tailor practice based on student need
  • Builds fluency in an engaging way
  • Offers multiple opportunities for students to practice their facts to ensure fluency

This task was designed to include specific features that support access for all students and align to best practice for English Language Learner (ELL) instruction. Go here to learn more about the research behind these supports. This lesson aligns to ELL best practice in the following ways:

  • Provides opportunities for students to practice and refine their use of mathematical language.
  • Allows for whole class, small group, and paired discussion for the purpose of practicing with mathematical concepts and language.
  • Includes a mathematical routine that reflects best practices to supporting ELLs in accessing mathematical concepts.
  • Provides opportunities to support students in connecting mathematical language with mathematical representations.

  • Making the Shifts

    How does this task exemplify the instructional Shifts required by CCSSM?

    Focus Belongs to the major work of first grade
    Coherence Develops fluencies that students will rely on in subsequent grades as they progress to full fluency with multi-digit addition and subtraction using the standard algorithm

    Conceptual Understanding: secondary in this set of tasks

    Procedural Skill and Fluency: primary in this set of tasks

    Application: not targeted in this set of tasks

  • Task 1

    How Many Are Hiding

    In this class activity, students find the missing number to complete a number sentence while also seeing different representations made by other students.


    • 10 or more snap cubes /objects per player
    • a cup for each player

    Task Instruction

    • In this activity each child has the same number of cubes and a cup.
    • They take turns hiding some of their cubes in the cup and showing the leftovers.
    • Other children work out the answer to the question “How many are hiding,” and say the full number combination.

    Example: I have 10 cubes and I decide to hide 4 in my cup. My group can see that I only have 6 cubes. Students should be able to say that I’m hiding 4 cubes and that 6 and 4 make 10.

  • Task 2

    Snap It

    Students work together to make different number combinations for a given number.


    • 10 or more snap cubes per student

    Task Instruction

    • This is an activity that children can work on in groups.
    • Each child makes a train of connecting cubes of a specified number.
    • On the signal “Snap,” children break their trains into two parts and hold one hand behind their back.
    • Children take turns going around the circle showing their remaining cubes.
    • The other children work out the full number combination.
  • Additional Thoughts

    Reaching fluency in addition and subtraction takes time and practice. Students will need many opportunities and varying activities to develop this fluency and practice should be incorporated into math instruction on a regular basis. Traditional approaches to teaching fluency tend to rely on worksheets that ask students to recall facts: these tasks illustrate a different type of practice that will also help students develop fluency. These two tasks are part of a larger set of tasks for grades K–High School from youcubed, and the full task bank can be found here.

    These tasks may be modified as students are first developing fluency for addition and subtraction within 5 (K.OA.A.5), and as students continue to work toward fluency with sums and differences within 20 (2.OA.A.2). Teachers may further differentiate these tasks for their students by targeting specific sums and differences with which they see their students struggle. For more on how students can gain fluency in addition and subtraction in grade 1, read pages 14–17 of the progression document, K Counting and Cardinality; K–5 Operations and Algebraic Thinking.

Supplemental Resources