Take the stress out of implementing math centers in your classroom...
Close this search box.

Need Help Organizing Your K-5 Math Block?

Use this FREE resource guide to plan your daily math schedule, learn more about math workshop and get recommended resources that make your teacher life easier.

The Counting On Strategy for Addition

Want to learn more about the Counting On Strategy for addition?

Look no further, I’m going to break it down for you right here and right now.

What Is the Counting On Strategy?

Counting On is a strategy kids use to, you guessed it…add numbers. Kids start using this strategy when they are able to conceptualize numbers. They move from counting everything or Counting All to Counting On.

This addition strategy is so important because it’s a sign that your students are beginning to do mental math. Kids have to be able to “hold” a quantity in their minds and then add on to it.

Counting On vs. Counting All

Counting All is exactly what it sounds like. Kids count every number to find the sum. Usually, kids use Counting All if they can not visualize what a number represents.


This is normal for kindergarten and beginning 1st grade students. Although you may find kinder students that are able to Count On as well.

In Counting On, children start with a pre-determined number and count up.

What Does It Look Like?

It can look many different ways. Manipulatives, math models, and visuals are a great way for your kids to explore and grasp this strategy. You can use teddy bear counters, linking cubes, really anything that can be grouped together. Then create a visual model.

Another visual model that can be used to represent counting on is a number line. Use questioning to guide your students and illustrate their thought processes.

Number paths are also excellent tools to use in Kindergarten to help students visualize the concept of counting on to add.

Once students truly understand counting on, they can do it mentally.

Counting On In Steps:

STEP 1 – Start with an addend

STEP 2 – Count on or up by ones until the second addend is reached

The number ended is the sum.

(Teacher Tip: It’s easier to start with the larger addend because there is less to count up. This makes for a great math conversation. “Which number did you start with and why?”)

I created an anchor chart kit to conceptualize the most common addition strategies that kids use, including Counting On.

Each strategy has its own page, so you can add them to a sheet of chart paper throughout the school year.

I also included a student-friendly addition strategies pamphlet (all strategies included) so that your kids can use it at their desks.

The pamphlets are also GREAT for parents so that they can see what strategies their kids are using.

Take the stress out of implementing math centers in your classroom...