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  • Writer's pictureLara

Introducing Addition and Subtraction Symbols and the Equal Sign!

Young Kids Don’t Need Symbols….

To start solving addition and subtraction problems. The plus, minus, and equal signs can be a bit much in a world where they are still learning their numbers and letters. That’s not to say those things aren't important, but using them does not need to be a top priority

Introducing the Symbols

Now that we have that out of the way, the symbols are important when they are ready. Before officially introducing them it can be helpful to write them down when discussing various problem-solving strategies when appropriate. 

When officially introducing (any information) but specifically the symbols, it can be a powerful strategy to give students more than one entry point allowing their brains to make connections on several levels.

Get their emotions involved. You could just have students make a plus, minus, or equal sign with their fingers but they don't necessarily have a connection to what those symbols are. If you include a story to go with learning about symbols the concept becomes much more powerful.

Instead of abstract symbols, make them characters, give them emotions and a story! 

Enter Gus the Plus, Linus the Minus, and Zeequal the Equal.

Gus the plus, likes to add to everyone’s day, when you see just, you know there will be more!

Zeequal the Equal loves to keep everything in balance! When you see Zeequal, you know that both sides of the equation will equal the same amount.

Now Linus the minus, is the opposite of Gus the Plus. When Linus comes around, you’ll be left with less!

Things to Remember

The minus sign should be read as “minus” or “subtract” vs “take away” because take away does not apply to all subtraction situations.

Be careful with the equal sign, it should mean “the same as” but students can often think of it as a sign that the answer goes here, it is time to do some kind of computation. Take opportunities to write number sentences both ways 2 + 4 = 6 and 6 = 2 + 4.

No Prep Slides for Introducing Addition and Subtraction

Let’s bring the Gus, Linus, and Zeequal to life! If you’re looking for No Prep Lessons and Activities starring Gus, Linus, and Zeequal, you can get the number sentence lessons here!

Each day, your students will have a warm-up, mini-lesson, and new addition or subtraction math center, game, or activity to use! They will be introduced to Gus, Linus, and Zeequal and have hands-on experience with Digital Math Stories to practice the skills and write matching number sentences. On the last day, they have a culminating whole group game and craftivity where they have the opportunity to write and illustrate their own story!

Looking for some NO Prep Addition Practice with 11 unique addition within 10 worksheets? Get them here!

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