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Right-Brained Addition & Subtraction


Children that struggle with math need a right-brained approach: one that uses images, body movement, and stories to teach basic math facts. Addition and subtraction is fundamental to all other math disciplines, so we start here laying number sense visually so that children go beyond learning math facts to understanding what numbers mean and how they work.


Right-Brained Addition & Subtraction takes a left-brained subject (using symbols, abstract concepts, rules to memorize) and integrates right-brained elements and body motion in order to engage the multiple regions in the brain in the learning process. This book introduces numbers including number recognition, counting, writing numbers, ordering numbers, number sense, and teaches addition and subtraction to ten.

For learning math facts over 10, buy the second book in this series: Right-Brained Place Value, Adding and Subtracting Numbers Over 10. This new edition of Addition & Subtraction is full color, is game-based, relies on the child's visual strengths for learning and remembering. This detailed book is packed with 101 pages of reproducible pages, educational games, assessments, math worksheets, and the answer keys. 180 pages total. Product code: RBAS.   



Right-brained Addition and subtraction is the start of our math series and in many ways, it will be the spark that lights the fire of love for math.


Math is difficult

Math is difficult for so many children to learn because math is taught in a hyper left-brained fashion. Given that roughly 66% of children prefer a right-brained approach to learning, it is no wonder that math seems to hard or boring for them. The hallmark of a left-brained approach is memorization of facts and procedures.



Right-brained approach

What right-brained kids need and thrive on include:

  • understanding the meaning behind what they are doing
  • relevance to their own lives
  • images showing what is happening and that they can learn visually
  • patterns that exist in arrays of numbers
  • hooks for learning and remembering, which stories, images, and body motions provide

Children who are visual, right-brained WILL learn math easily if it is designed in a way that makes sense to their brains.


The presentation makes all the difference! 

In our math resources, children will find math presented in ways that marry left-brained symbols with right-brained vehicles for learning and understanding such as:

  • VISUALS -To help with learning procedures, number facts, and vocabulary.
  • PERSONIFICATION – by which numbers take on a personality which carries the meaning of numbers and procedures
  • PATTERNS – will show visually the nature of numbers and how they “act” and how they relate to each other. Patterns bring order to numbers.
  • STORIES– Will show students the meaning behind what they are doing and will make learning unforgettable and personal
  • BODY MOTION – is another powerful way math meaning is carried to the brain

Right-Brained Addition and Subtraction contains all these elements and much more.




Sarah has designed visual systems for learning addition and subtraction. Here are a few examples of the many amazing visuals and patterns that are taught in the book.

First, let’s look at learning to count and recognize numbers on sight. 

The numbers in this image have a personality and an image. For example, Eight is a snowman while Six is a unicycle.

They are arranged in rows of 5. Consider all the applications of units of five: they relate directly to telling time in five-minute increments and to counting money. And most importantly it the number of fingers on a child’s hand.



Patterns Emerge

When numbers are placed in a row of 5 a pattern also appears. Let’s look at the numbers again. Now look at the third column starting with the number 3. Do you see the pattern? 3 then 8 then 13 then 18 what’s next… 23.

Let’s also look at the shape of a 3 and an 8. The 3 is just like an 8 with one side cut off. The pattern and similarities are in every column now look at the 4 and 9 and you will see they look more alike than you thought.

When we look at the map of Stonybrook, many patterns emerge which children can study, and which will make it easy for them to learn and remember facts to 10…. Visually. This map contains all the facts to 10 – both addition & subtraction.

Students Will Be Engaged

Addition & Subtraction is set in Stony Brook, a place your child will want to visit! Stony Brook is our math village where your students become property Managers.

Students will be managing how many people can live in a house on a particular street. Let’s look at 3rd Street. On Third Street only three people can live in each house. As you can see there are only two house because no matter how you arrange the numbers, there are only 2 possible ways of making a 3: 0+3 or 1+2.




Here is a problem to work through: If a house on 3 street has 1 person living on the second floor how many people will need to live on the first floor. That’s right 2.



Transition to Traditional Math

After your student learns a street by putting numbers in houses, we transition them to traditional math problems. As you can see there are many different combinations of numbers that equal 3, however, they all fit within the two houses, making the information that your student needs to learn very limited.


How It Works

  • Children learn a street.
  • They learn the next street.
  • They practice problems from the two streets.
  • They learn another street.
  • They practice all they have learned to date.
  • And so it goes until they have completed 10th

And that is just the beginning of the book.

We discuss number recognition, include a number song and Kinesthetic Strategies for preventing writing numbers backward. Also included are many games you can play to make learning math fun and engaging while laying a visual background for understanding numbers and facts.

Right-Brained Addition and Subtraction contains over 70 reproducible pages including

  • Full-color numbers to 20
  • Full-color map of StonyBrook Village
  • Houses and numbers templates
  • Student worksheets
  • Tracking Charts for monitoring knowledge of facts
  • Answer keys

Watch the video to find out more!

How Body Movement Helps Children Learn Math Concepts

I first started to pay attention to movement years ago while I was teaching a group of preschoolers. We had written the numbers 1-20 on a chart with four rows of five numbers. During circle time, children would take turns pointing to each number as they had led the rest of the children in counting. One morning, Peter's mother informed me that Peter had suddenly begun to count by fives and she was surprised, and quite frankly, really pleased. She wanted to know if we'd been working on counting by five. I said no we hadn't.

Curious, I began to watch Peter when he was leading the counting exercise. It happened that he would track to the right, pointing 1, 2, 3, and 4, and when he got to 5, he would swing his body back to the left to quickly point to the 6. He moved the same way when he reached 10. I began to suspect that the swinging motion to the left became associated in Peter's mind and body with the numbers 5, 10, 15, and 20.

Lean to the Right with Even Numbers

To try out the theory of movement prompting learning, when it was time to start learning to count by 2's, we formed a line and marched as we chanted our numbers. We would lean heavily to the right each time we said an even number. "One, TWO, three, FOUR, five, SIX," etc. Next, we repeated the same march, but we whispered the off numbers and spoke the even numbers loudly while leaning heavily to the right. Finally, we just thought the off numbers, but continued to lean and say the even numbers out loud. So we counted on hearing the even numbers at the same time our body leaned into the even numbers as a means of learning to count by two's.

When Learning to Count By Two's, March in Time to Oral Counting

1. "one" and take a step with your right foot

2. "two" and take a step with your left foot, but lean your body dramatically to the left as you do

3. "three" and take a normal, upright step with your right foot, etc.

The pattern absorbed by the body is that the odd numbers are right-foot, straight up, while the even numbers are associated with a learning to the left. This pattern of movement will subtly reinforce to the mind/body of the child those even numbers

If Counting By Fives, Try Whispering and Stamping

1. Whisper "one, two, three, four"

2. As you stamp your foot, say "five!"

3. Whisper "six, seven, eight, nine"

4. Stamp and say "ten!" etc.

When Learning Money Use Movement

If a child has trouble remembering how many pennies in a nickel, try this: "I'm going to give you a nickel sandwich" while pretending to pumch with five fingers of one hand loosely fisted. Relate the number of pennies in a nickel to the number of fingers on your hand.

When talking about dimes, chant "It's FINE to have a DIME" clap, clap. Look at your two hands and relate the number of fingers on both hands to pennies in a dime.

For a quarter, remind the child that a "punch" is a nickel and a clap is a dime, so when talking about a quarter, you will clap twice (ten, twenty) and then punch one (twenty-five). Say "I have" clap, clap "a quarter!" punch.

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