One of the first strategies kids use for solving number equations is counting on their fingers. With my oldest {currently 1st grade}, I began to notice that counting on his fingers {even using small manipulatives} was slowing him down. He was ready to move on to using a new and “upgraded” strategy. I realized that, for the most part, he knew his math facts to 10 and doubles to 20. So I used that basic knowledge to help him see that he could solve other equations using logical reasoning.

### Modeling the Sort

First, I created a sort (free download) for all the equivalent equations that equal 10. {I really like using sorts because they can be used for multiple purposes, unlike worksheets.} We used the known math facts as headers. I created addition problems related to each header. I modeled my thinking with a couple of problems as I sorted them. For example, “If I know that 5+5=10, that helps me solve 6+5 because all I have to do is add one more in my head.”

### Supporting the Student

I turned it over to him, supporting him as he sorted. I asked him to verbalize his thinking as well. He quickly discovered that some of the equations could go under more than one header. For example, 7+4 could go under 7+3 or 6+4.

Once he had sorted each equation with my support, I went back through them and pointed to a few, asking, “Why did you put this one here?” I wanted to hear him verbalize his logical reasoning.

### Independent Practice

Then, I turned it over to him. I shuffled the cards and let him re-sort with minimal help. To take it a step further, he re-sorted all of these again the next day on his own.

### Extending the Activity

We repeated this process with another equation sort. This time, I used doubles as the headers (5+5 to 10+10).

This proved to be a bit more challenging for him, so I supported him further by writing the answers on the head equations. He sorted them one day and the next day, he re-sorted and wrote the answers to each of the problems.

As we begin to review some of the math concepts we’ve learned this year, I plan on pulling these sorts out again! I hope they will be of use to you as well.