Addition and Subtraction Rhymes

Stacy Zeiger
addition facts on blackboard

Helping children understand more complex addition and subtraction, such as inverse operations or fact families, can be difficult. The best way to get children to understand how numbers work together in fact families is to provide them with a lot of examples, including fun songs and rhymes. Children will enjoy memorizing fun rhymes, making the process painless.

Properties of Addition and Subtraction

Use these rhymes to help children understand the concept of different addition and subtraction properties. As you say the rhymes, draw different fact families on a piece of paper or on a whiteboard to replace the letters a, b and c and to give children a visual image to accompany the rhyme.

Commutative Property

When you're in a family, it doesn't matter who comes first.
A plus B always equals C, but B plus A also works.

Associative Property

When you add more than two numbers
The order doesn't matter, you see.
For A + B + C + D = C+ A + D + B.

Additive Identity Property

Add any number to zero and you'll get that number again.
0+3 or 3+0, you'll always get 3 in the end.

Inverse Operation

When you want to subtract, the numbers stay the same
Except C-A equals B and C-B equals A.

If C-B equals A, then what is C-A?
The answer is B. It's clear to see.
It's a family of facts.

Fact Family Rhymes

Teaching children about fact families can help them learn specific addition and subtraction facts quickly.

Fact Family Definition

In a fact family, you have three numbers -- one big and two small.
You can mix and match them up as you add and subtract them all.

We're a Family of Three

We are a fact family.
We're a family of three.
You can add numbers a and b
And you'll get number c.
Let's try it another way.
If you want to get number c
You can also add b and a.

Mom + Dad = Baby

We are a fact family.
Mom and dad and baby make three.
Mom + Dad equal a big baby
Dad + Mom make the same baby.
Take mom from baby and you have dad.
Take dad from baby and get a mom who's sad.

Specific Addition Facts

You can also use rhymes to help children remember specific addition and subtraction facts. Use these rhymes to inspire you and your children to create your own fact family rhymes.

2, 4, 6

2+4 is 6 and 6 is 4+2.
No matter how you line us up, we'll never change our tune.
6-4 is 2 and 6-2 is four.
Even when subtracting us,
We're family at the core.

2, 3, 5

If two plus three equals five, then five minus two equals three.
Three plus two equals five again and two equals five minus three.

5, 7, 12

Seven plus five equals 12 and Twelve minus seven equals five.
Twelve minus five equals seven and twelve equals seven plus five.

Different Ways to Add

Teaching children about addition also involves helping them understand that you can add different combinations of numbers to get a specific number. 3+5 equals 8, but so does 4+4 and 6+2. Use a rhyme containing all of the different addition possibilities to help children understand this confusing concept.

1+0 equals 1 and 0+1 equals it too.
2+0 equals 2 and 1+1 is 2, it's true.
2+1 equals 3 and 3+0 equals three as well.
0+4, 2+2 and 1+3 equal four. That's swell.
0+5 and 1+4 equals the number five.
So do the numbers 2+3. I think that's really jive.
0+6, 1+5 and 4+2 all equal the number six.
You can also make six with 3+3. Isn't that a way cool trick?
0+7 and 1+6 equal number seven. 4+3 and 5+2, make seven not eleven.
Add 0+8, 1+7 and 5+3. You can also add 4+4 and 6+2 to make 8, you see.
To make number 9, add 0+9 or 1+8
You can also add 6+3 and 5+4. That's so really great.
Now we're up to number ten. Make it with 6+4.
1+9, 5+5 and 8+2 are more.

Other Addition and Subtraction Rhymes

Other educators have created addition and subtraction rhymes you can use to help children learn all about fact families and basic addition and subtraction skills.

  • Songs for Teaching's Fact Family Song is an original song created to help children learn random fact families.
  • Friendship Central School District has a cute fact family song set to the tune of "Old McDonald".
  • Totally Math Fact Families song goes over different ways to make a sum.

Remembering Addition and Subtraction Facts

By putting addition and subtraction facts into rhymes, you give children a tool for remembering addition and subtraction facts. However, rhymes are only one tool to help children fully build this skill. You must also provide children with plenty of examples and opportunities for practice. The more tools you give students, the easier adding and subtracting will be.

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Addition and Subtraction Rhymes