Journey Through Addition

Journey Through Addition in Video

We hope you will find this guide useful in explaining the progression of stages that are taught to the children at Exminster Community Primary School to ensure they have a secure understanding of addition. The guide is written into stages, which do not directly correlate with a particular year group. The children will be moved onto the next stage when they have a secure understanding of the one that they are on. This ensures children have conceptual understanding and not just procedural; they need to understand why they doing things and how that gets the correct answer. Below you will find a video to go with each stage to explain the methods we teach clearly. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to come in and talk to your child’s class teacher.


Stage 1a - Addition

Children start by counting and saying how many there are altogether, by counting all the objects.

Stage 1b - Addition

Children now begin to draw images to represent the objects.

This is a good time to introduce a variety of addition vocabulary: plus, add, count on, equals, totals, makes, altogether.

Stage 1c - Addition

At this stage children hold the bigger number in their head and count on the smaller number. This can also been shown on a bead string.

Stage 1d - Addition

Children can now relate this to a numbered line.

Stage 2a - Addition

Children then begin to use numbered lines to support their own calculations using a numbered line to count on in ones.

Stage 2b - Addition

Children now use a blank line to support them with addition.

Stage 2c - Addition

Children now start to use their knowledge of number bonds to help them cross the tens barrier.

Stage 3a - Addition

Children work on adding together two 2-digit numbers using a number line to support. The biggest number remains whole, to count on from, while the smallest number is partitioned into tens and ones. The ones are then added followed by the tens.

Stage 3b - Addition

Once children are confident with 3a, they then use an blank line to support the calculation. They may use base ten to support this.

Stage 3c - Addition

Alongside this method, you hope the children begin to see numbers that they can adjust to make the calculation easier. We call these ‘nearly numbers’.

Stage 4a - Addition

When children are secure with stage 3 and are able to use this as a mental image, they can move onto the expanded column method. This is best introduced using the base ten to ensure the children have a secure understanding of the place value.

Stage 4b - Addition

Now they can work on questions that involve regrouping, crossing over the tens barrier.

Stage 5a - Addition

Children will now learn the formal written method for addition. Children must have a secure understanding of place value first.

Stage 5b - Addition

At this stage the children can use the formal written method to add together decimal numbers.