Young Children’s Addition Strategies


Every child develops at their own pace and implements different strategies in their learning. Children of the same age often vary in their achievements, predicting later outcomes in their academic lives (Bergin & Bergin, 2019). Thus, children acquire basic arithmetic operations such as addition at different rates and using distinct strategies. For the purposes of this assignment, three children were observed when playing the board game Chutes and Ladders. Their approaches to counting the numbers on two dice were monitored and examined from the point of view of the information-processing model.

Arithmetic Strategies Observation

The observation of children using various addition strategies was carried out during a game of Chutes and Ladders, which employs two standard dice with numbers from one to six. The children playing the game were all girls aged four, four and a half, and seven. During the game, the younger girls mainly employed counting on addition strategy (Warstillo, 2022). For example, if the dice showed numbers 5 and 2, they would count all the numbers as 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7, using the dots on the dice as reference. Both the 4-year-old and 4,5-year-old could start counting from numbers from one to four but needed to count starting from one when dice showed numbers five and six. Thus, the if the dice rolled 3 and 5, they would count the numbers as 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 + 8. Notably, they were able to memorize some of the easier combinations if they rolled them repeatedly. Specifically, combinations 3 and 1 and 4 and 5 were rolled several times, and the girls could accurately draw these combinations from memory.

The 7-year-old was able to use more advanced addition strategies when playing the game. Thus, she employed make ten, doubles, and near doubles strategies when adding two numbers (Warstillo, 2022). For example, she calculated the number of moves from dice showing 3 and 4 as 3 + 3 + 1 or 6 + 1, using the doubles and near doubles strategies. The make ten strategy was utilized for sums larger than 10, including 5 + 6 and 6 + 6. In particular, the child would make ten first and then add the remaining numbers. Furthermore, the 7-year-old did not use the dots on the dice as a reference.

The Information-Processing Model

The observed addition strategies implemented by the children reflect the fundamental principles of the information-processing model. According to Bergin and Bergin (2019), students perform better if they have greater working and long-term memory and greater metacognition. Furthermore, Qi et al. (2022) note that children with working memory deficits are more likely to struggle with simple arithmetic operations such as addition. The experiment with the Chutes and Ladders game supports these tenets. The 7-year-old, as a grade 2 student, clearly possessed greater working and long-term memory and had a more extensive knowledge base, allowing for retrieval of facts when appropriate. As the child knew more facts and was previously introduced to different addition strategies, she could calculate all additions faster. It can be assumed that her working memory was not overly taxed, and she relied primarily on long-term memory. Meanwhile, the other children did not acquire greater knowledge and could not rely on fact retrieval from long-term memory. It should be noted that both recently started to attend kindergarten. As they were only introduced to one addition strategy, counting on, they relied on it and their working memory to perform addition.


In summary, the observation of children’s approaches to addition and the use of various strategies indicates the validity of the information-processing model. The older child, who was previously introduced to basic arithmetic operations, could rely on her long-term memory and fact retrieval and employ different addition strategies. Whereas the younger children, due to their age and the start of their school career, relied extensively on one strategy known to them as well as their working memory.


Bergin, C. C., & Bergin, D. A. (2019). Child and adolescent development in your classroom, chronological approach. Cengage Learning.

Qi, Y., Chen, Y., Yang, X., & Hao, Y. (2022). How does working memory matter in young children’s arithmetic skills: The mediating role of basic number processing. Current Psychology, 1–13.

Warstillo, K. (2022). 14 strategies for teaching addition. Lucky Little Learners. Web.

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ChalkyPapers. 2023. "Young Children’s Addition Strategies." September 27, 2023.

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ChalkyPapers. "Young Children’s Addition Strategies." September 27, 2023.