Add ‘Em Up

I read about Sara Van Der Werf’s Add ‘Em Up activity on her blog a while back.  I remember reading her blog and seeing the pictures of this awesome activity and thinking, “Ok, this is great, but is it really like this in real life?  Yeah, it works for Sara.  But she’s THE Sara Van Der Werf. Would my classroom really look like this too?!”

Then I heard her talk about it last summer a few times at PD she was running.  I was slightly more convinced that I could pull this off, but I wasn’t fully there yet.  I remembered this activity when I was looking for something other than a worksheet to do with one of my classes, and I decided this would be a good class to test it out on.

This is what I saw in my classroom in nearly all of my groups!

IMG_5365 2

My classroom really does look like Sara described in her blog when I do this activity with my students.  It has become one of my favorite ways to review concepts with my students.  I love that it’s minimal prep for me.  I create 4 problems, get big sheets of paper, and I’m good to go!  I’ve learned to just keep several big sheets of paper in my classroom so I am prepared at all times to do this with a class.  I also love that my students just naturally start working together while doing this activity.

Sara explains in detail how the activity works in her blog post, but here’s a brief overview of how I’ve done it in my classroom.  I highly recommend that you read through her post if you decide to use this in your classroom.  Re-reading Sara’s post was a good refresher for me.  She does several things I have left out when I do the activity with students.

  • Put students into groups of 4.
  • Give students a big sheet of paper to work the problems on and have them divide it into four sections with a circle in the middle.
  • Each student solves one of the four problems given to the group in their section.  Once all students have an answer, they add up the four answers and that number goes in the middle circle.
  • When students finish, I tell them whether or not the number in the middle is correct.  I love that they don’t know which problem(s) of the four are incorrect, just that something is wrong.  Students automatically start helping each other to find their mistake.  It’s great!

Here is the link to download the activities I created this year.  Please let me know if you find any mistakes in my work.  The following activities can be found in the link above.

6th Grade Activities:

  • Evaluate expressions
  • Solving one step equations with decimals
  • Greatest common factor and least common multiple
  • Solving multi-step equations (includes equations with variables on both sides)
  • Solving multi-step equations using the distributive property

8th Grade Activities:

  • Solving equations review (includes quadratics, absolute value, square root, and equations with no solution/infinite solution -I just had students tell me which problem(s) had no solution or infinite solutions when they gave me the number in the box.)
  • Function notation

    Update 9.22.17  I’ve added the following 8th grade activities to the folder

  • Order of Operations with integers (includes absolute value)
  • Evaluate expressions (includes absolute value and square roots)
  • Simplify Expressions
  • Solving Equations (includes distributive property and variables on both sides)

One thought on “Add ‘Em Up

  1. Thank you Greta! I appreciate the Add-em-Up resources you created for Middle School that are based on what Sara’s shared…at the end of the school year it can be hard to find an activity of value that keeps the students engaged. I very much appreciate your gift of joyful learning!


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