I we wrap up our series on adding & subtracting decimals, I’m excited to share not only a free practice activity with you, but also one of my favorite classroom teaching strategies, called a Pair-Share-Check. This adding & subtracting decimals partner activity is specifically designed to help kids practice in multiple ways and then to think about what strategies are the most useful to them. So I hope this proves to be a useful tactic in your classroom for fostering collaboration and exciting math talk!
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Strategies for Adding & Subtracting Decimals:
In this series, we’ve looked at several different methods and visuals to help kids add & subtract decimals.
I believe all of these tools and visuals are important to help kids make sense of decimal numbers.
But not all are going to be as effective and efficient as they get more proficient at solving problems.
For example, building out every single problem with base ten blocks can get tedious. So using decimal grids to model the same thing on paper is more efficient.
And hopefully, after practicing and exploring with lots of different visuals, kids will begin to feel comfortable solving these problems mentally. So I would encourage you to pair your study with number talks involving addition & subtraction with decimals.
Today, I want to share a partner challenge that focuses on two visual models: number lines and decimal grids.
Adding & Subtracting Decimals Partner Activity
Before I explain this specific example, let me first explain how a “pair-share-check” activity works.
To begin, group kids in pairs. Give one student the “partner #1” page and the other student the “partner #2” page.
Then independently they each solve problem 1 on their worksheet.
The thing is, they are each solving the same problem, but in a different way.
After they each solve it, they share their solutions and methods. Because they’ve solved the same problem, they should each have the same solution.
If not, they need to look at how they solved and compare and discuss to try and determine the error or misunderstanding.
Then they move on to problem #2 and solve and discuss the same way.
The goal with this challenge is to give kids an opportunity to practice using different strategies and also to compare and discuss those strategies (one might work better for a particular problem than another).
In the following example using decimals, kids alternate using a number line and a decimal grid.
So for the first problem, one student will solve it with the help of a number line, and the other will use a decimal grid.
Notice that I used these tools only to help with the decimal portion of the number, and dealt with the whole number part separately. You can encourage kids to do the same, because of limited space on the paper.
Or if your kids prefer to use an open number line, they can always draw one in the space there and solve that way instead.
Adding & Subtracting Decimals Discussion Questions:
After completing the set of problems, I’ve also included a page of discussion questions so kids can think a little deeper about how they’re solving them and why.
Answers to these questions will vary, but they might find that a number line is more useful when adding tenths but the decimal grid is better when adding hundredths.
Or perhaps they prefer one visual for adding and the other for subtracting.
And they might just prefer a different method or visual model altogether! That’s ok.
The important thing is that they’re thinking about how and when they might use a visual model so that they’re making logical choices as they solve problems.
And of course, as they think about the different visual models and discuss with their partner (or together as a class) they’re engaging in meaningful math talk.
So I hope you’re excited to try this out with your students!
Included in the Adding & Subtracting Decimals Partner Challenge:
Just so you know, this download includes 2 different sets of problems. The first set (with a partner 1 and partner 2 page) includes problems that don’t require regrouping.
This is a much more straightforward set of problems, great for when you’re just beginning to work with decimals.
The second set includes problems that do require regrouping. This is when the use of visual models will be especially important for kids.
And again, it also includes a page of discussion questions.
I suggest printing partner 1 and partner 2 pages (for whichever set of problems you want kids to work on) with the discussion questions on the back.
That way kids will have their set of problems and their extension questions all on one piece of paper.
What do you think? Have you ever paired kids up to compare strategies before? What other tips or ideas do you have?
What other visuals or strategies do you like to use for adding & subtracting decimals? Share in the comments!
I hope your kids have fun but are also challenged with this adding & subtracting decimals partner activity!
Want more low-prep practice? Grab this set of decimal operations mazes!
Or grab this complete activity collection to see and make sense of adding & subtracting decimals.
And of course, be sure to check out our complete series of “Teaching Addition & Subtraction with Decimals!”
- Adding & Subtracting Decimals with Base Ten Blocks
- Base Ten Blocks Printable Game
- Adding & Subtracting Decimals on a Number Line
- Adding & Subtracting Decimals with a Decimal Grid
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