Fourth of July Addition Activity

Adding three numbers together is a tricky concept – especially when you run out of fingers to count! To help my first graders dabble in this much needed skill, I whipped up a patriotic activity that’s perfect to use for the Fourth of July, Memorial Day or Labor Day. Grab your free set below and then hop over and snag our motivating color by code addition sheets too!

Getting Ready

To prep the math center, I simply printed everything onto card stock and laminated each page.

Then, I cut the pieces apart, slipped them into a labeled gallon-sized baggie, and in just minutes I was ready to go!

The Activity

Math centers are an integral part of math time in my classroom, so when I said I had a new learning center to introduce, my students perked up and wanted to see it.

We gathered on the carpet and I popped one of the addition cards underneath our document camera.  It read 8+2+6.

I asked my students to quickly show me how they felt about about this math problem:  a thumbs up for “it’s easy,” sideways for “I’m not sure,” and a thumbs down for “I need you to teach me”.

Then, I called on one of my students who had shown me a thumbs up and said, “I noticed you were confident about doing this math problem. Do you want to try it and explain your thinking?”

My first grade friend smiled and explained that he knew the answer was 16 because 8+2 was 10 and then he “just added 6 more” to get 16.

I applauded him and headed over to our whiteboard to write the problem out– nice and big.

I reiterated his statement by circling the first two numbers and saying, “so what I’m hearing is that you added the first two numbers together, and then worried about adding on the third number after that”.

He nodded and I finished showing my work to get 16.

After confirming this method, I pulled another problem under our document camera.  It read  7+3+4.

I asked, “who can help me figure our next problem out?”.  Thankfully, many more kiddos shot their hands up in the air for their chance to participate.

One of my little girls explained her thinking and was right as well!  Then, I told my students to simply remember that they should add the first two numbers, then the third number.

For guided practice, students paired up with the person next to them and I handed each pair a card.

They discussed the answer and then turned back to face the front.

My class quickly caught on that the first two numbers on each card was adding up to ten, so I complimented them for noticing it.

Lastly, I showed my students the 13, 14, 15, and 16 cards and stated that when they chose this center during their independent work time, they could spread all the pieces out and sort the addition problems into piles.

We continued onto our daily Math Workshop rotations, but I made it a point to check in with students when they excitedly worked on this math activity for the first time.

Grab Your Copy

Want to download a FREE copy for yourself? Just click the blue download button below and then hop over and snag our color by code addition sheets too.


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Hi, I’m Malia.

I LOVE helping Pre-K, Kindergarten and First Grade teachers save time, stay inspired and give EVERY student bigger results. I’m so glad you’re here!

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