Whole Number Computation – Addition & Subtraction Basic Facts

This Instructional Resource Set includes resources that can be used to recall and practice basic addition facts with sums to 18 or less and the corresponding subtraction facts.  The focus of the resources is on a first grade level, but can easily be used for younger students who could benefit from accelerated lessons or for older students who need review or additional practice in addition and subtraction.

Five Best Books to Teach Addition or Subtraction Basic Facts


Domino Addition, written and illustrated by Lynette Long, Ph.D., is a wonderful book to incorporate into math lessons to supplement learning about dominoes and how they can be used to make learning math fun.

Learning to add is fun, especially when you use
Dominoes.  It's easy!  Let's learn how.

Dominoes have two halves.  Each half may have
zero, one, two, three, four, five, or six spots.

It is simple and clear in explaining how you can add the number of spots on each of the two halves of a domino.  The book includes a page for each addition fact family for numbers 0 to 12 in relation to the domino.  Each page contains illustrations of black dominoes with white spots on brightly colored backgrounds.  After reading the book to the class or small groups, students could use this book as a resource when working with dominoes.  The repetition of words allows the reader to focus on using pictorial representations to model addition and to use numeral equations and words to practice the concept of addition.


Elevator Magic, written by Stuart J. Murphy and illustrated by G. Brian Karas, is a fun way to practice subtraction while reading children's literature.  Ben meets his mom at work on the 10th floor, then they make several stops on the way down.

Next we have to drop off this package at
Speedway Delivery.  It's 3 floors down from here.

What floor should I push to go down just 3?

Now we're on 8.
3 floors down
8 – 3 = 5

Floor 5 is where Speedway Delivery should be.

Ben pushes the elevator buttons and uses a simplified “number line” to help understand and practice the concept of subtraction.  The book does a great job of illustrating how there is the need to use subtraction in a common daily activity.  The colorful illustrations support the concept in a fun way as they make magical stops along the way (real farm animals at Farm Bank and Trust, the noises and sights of a car race at Speedway Delivery, and an actual rock band playing at Hard Rock Candy Store).  The last two pages of the book include activities to have more fun with math concepts presented in the book.


As the town's residents open their shops in, How Many Bears? written by Cooper Edens and illustrated by Marjett Schille, the reader is invited to come inside and take a look.  The little animals have a challenge.  Can you figure it out:

How many Bears it takes to run the Bakery in Little Animal Town?

You'll visit that shop last, but each shop along the way has some clues
For you.  First count the animals who run each shop (only the real
Ones, don't be fooled), then read the clue on the opposite page.  The
Rest is up to you.

The reader has to use logical thinking and word problem solving skills to determine the answer to the question in the title of the book: How many bears?

In Little Animal Town…it takes four fewer Giraffes to run the Soda Fountain that it takes Bears to run the Bakery.

The reader can count the number of giraffes in the beautiful, brightly colored, detailed illustration of the Soda Fountain shop on the opposite page to begin to think through the word problem.  As you go through each page of the book, the information builds to allow the readers to find the final answer.  The book encourages practicing the skills of counting, addition, subtraction, and maybe even multiplication in a fun and challenging way.


Students can practice adding and subtracting as colorful ocean animals come and go in the coral reef of Sea Sums, written by Joy N. Hulme and illustrated by Carol Schwartz.  The author uses a rhyming, almost sing song story to introduce addition and subtraction concepts throughout the book.

Two triggerfish may choose to dine
On fresh-cracked crabs at suppertime.
If one eats three and one eats two
Five crabs will disappear from view€¦

3 crabs + 2 crabs = 5 crabs

The colorful ocean creatures look almost real in the vibrant illustrations that allow for many ways to incorporate teaching about the concepts of addition and subtraction.


Greg Tang accomplishes his mission to make math fun in the book, Math Fables:  Lessons That Count.  The book, written by Greg Tang and illustrated by Heather Cahoon, uses rhyming fables to encourage the reader to think about numbers in a creative and fun way.

Family Affair
3 turtles living in the woods
were always on the go.
One day they headed for a pond,
albeit very slow.

The youngest 1 soon raced ahead,
but accidentally tripped.
The other 2 caught up with him
and found that he had flipped!

They quickly grabbed him by the shell
and righted him once more.
All 3 agreed wholeheartedly,
"That's what a family's for!"

This book uses nice visual pictures along with simple addition math stories to allow for great practice in problem solving while having fun.

Five Best Web Sites for Kids for Addition or Subtraction Basic Facts

  • Softschools.com provides fun interactive math games such as the Math Lines Game to practice sums and fact families by destroying the moving line of balls by forming pairs that add up to 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, or 10.  Learning Addition for Kids allows for online solving of addition equations using numerals and pictures of objects.
  • Arcademic Skill Builders provides a variety of interactive games for addition and subtraction.  Alien Addition provides practice adding numbers as invading spaceships with addition problems move down from the top of the screen toward a laser cannon.  Answers are placed in the cannon to "equalize" the invader with the correct answer.  Island Chase is a multi-player racing game for subtraction. How quickly the student correctly answers the subtraction problem determines how quickly the jet ski will go. The student with the fastest rate of correct answers will win the race. Hits and misses are recorded and displayed at the end of the game, along with the student's rate.
  • Fun 4 The Brain has fun math games such as Beach Rush Addition Platform where you solve basic addition equations and then you have to get Mr. Zupple through the crab infested beach or Pizza Pizzaz where you serve the pizza to the table with the correct sum and then you get to create your own pizza.
  • NCTM Illuminations provides math related activities based on grade levels and searchable by key words.  Some helpful interactive activities include Five Frame and Ten Frame for practice counting shapes placed in the familiar five frame and ten frame formats.  Another game is How Many Under the Shell where the user can select the number of bubbles to play with or chose random to let Okta the octopus pick for you.
  • Oswego City School District's Math Magician provides several fun interactive games.  Ghost Blasters II is a game for two players to compete to be the first one to blast ghosts who's sums add up to a specified number (0-99).

Four Additional Resources

  • Stuart J. Murphy, author of books such as Elevator Magic and Ready, Set, Hop!, has a wonderful, interactive website that includes information on each of his books.  Three activities are suggested to go along with each book.  There are also tips and information on Visual Learning, links to many articles, journals, discount opportunities for teachers, and so much more.
  • NCTM Illuminations provides a variety of wonderful resources such as activities, lessons, standards, and weblinks searchable by grade level and key words.  Lesson plans include searchable unit and lessons plans such as Let's Learn Those Facts which focuses on using the properties of addition to help learn addition facts and to master the addition tables.
  • Songs for Teaching encourages using music to promote learning and provides lyrics and links to many songs that can be purchased.  Songs are categorized by subject, including a long list of addition and subtraction songsAdding Doubles is one fun song to try and provides lyrics and suggested movements.
  • Math Is Fun is a great web site that provides many useful resources related to math.  It includes a description of the math concept of addition, interactive activities and games, an illustrated dictionary, puzzles and quizzes, and more.
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