Sadie intently looking at Counting Numbers app on her iPad.

Basic Addition – Lesson and Tips

Follow Sadie, a beginner reader with CVI through a series of lessons!

This lesson is a jumping off point to become a unit done in days, weeks, years of learning however necessary. Never take a lesson and end it, keep it going. 

The key is to inspire students, no matter what skill level. 

Note: Most math curriculums think they meet the needs of diverse learners by offering many learning/teaching approaches to come to the same mathematical answers. I have interviewed MANY, many teachers at all levels. They say the same thing, you are confusing students. Yes, some learners need alternate ways to come to the same answer: number lines, manipulatives, show your work, do it sideways and vertical…but teachers are skilled and can show this to their students. Don’t teach everyone 8 ways to add 4+5=. UGH. 


The student will add basic addition from 0 to 5. 


What does the child know?
Have they identified numbers 1-10?
Can they show you what a number means by using manipulatives? What do I want them to learn?
What skills are required for them to achieve this goal?
What adaptations must be in place for optimal learning? 

This lesson can be adapted to ANY age group. You will see this in many of my lessons, why, because this is a tool, use it to fit your needs. 


Large print

Photo of Sadie intently looking at Counting app (iPad screen is perpendicular to table) with number line on table.

Great FREE app I found for Sadie in her first grade year: 

Learning to Count app

screenshot of Learning to Count app with image of cartoon black bird.

Great App for Pre-K and still use in 1st grade: 

Starfall app


 “4 plus 1 equals how many all together” 

Photo of iPad screen with a glow drawing app:

This is an example of how we use a glow app to draw problems and we count the dots we make, I put a line through the dot as we count for ease. 

Play a game as reinforces or additional lessons:


As I did with my own kids growing up and then with my students at school, there are endless opportunities to count!
Make numbers personal:

“OH look, that is the number 5, that’s your number!” “If we add one more, how many will you be on your next birthday?”

“There is the number 3, that’s how old your sister is going to be next week.”

“Let’s count how many shoes you have and then how many shoes I have and then add them all together!” 

More Math Ideas

APH hundred board ($15), we let all the students in her class use it and we also had one just her own that she took home. Yes, we get to count to a hundred, over and over again. This helps our CVI kids understand that numbers go on FOREVER. Find a peer who is good at it and get them to help. Then this is the time to introduce skip counting: 10, 20 30, 40… 

Number Line that I recommend, comes in a pack of 6 and it is bold and easy to use 

photo taken at school with Sadie using number line and with APH's hundreds chart in front of her.

Screenshot of Amazon item, Hand2Mind number paths (number line with moveable arrow) for $19.24


I started using 2 inch sticky notes on black cardstock so they stay in place as counting manipulatives.

Flashcard with 1+8= and 2


With CVI the introduction will be novel. 

I’m not a tester, I assess. A test means there can be failure. There is no failure for us. 

The child has achieved this learning activity when they can “tell” verbally or by showing you basic addition facts. Sadie tells me by circling her answer or by pointing on a number line since she has trouble with writing her numbers. Do what works for your student. 


Other posts in this series:

By Lisha

Ish book cover with an illustration of a child running with a paintbrush and text: Peter H Reynolds

“Ish” book: Drawing, estimating, and digital table activities

Image of the graphed y = sin(x) equation

Understanding Desmos: Sonification lessons

Black and white image of a lion

Safari animal sounds: ePub and tactile graphic activities