5 Tips to Teach the Doubles Addition Strategy

Are you looking for a way to help your students become more fluent in addition facts? As you teach math fact fluency, it is important to introduce the addition strategies for your students to use.

One strategy that is especially helpful for addition is the ‘doubles' mental math strategy. This post provides five tips to help teach this strategy and some ideas for reinforcing it in the your classroom. First, let's take a look at what the ‘doubles' mental math strategy is.

What is the Doubles Strategy?

Adding doubles is a mental math strategy that can be used to quickly add numbers. To use this strategy, you take two numbers that are the same and add them together. For example, if you're adding 5 + 5, you would double 5 to get 10.

Read more about developing strong math fact fluency using mental math strategies. 

The CRA Sequence of Instruction is an instructional model that leads students through 3 different phases of relating to math concepts: ConcreteRepresentational, and Abstract.

In this diagram, we can see the ‘doubles' strategy progressing through the CRA model with the help of math mats:

CONCRETE: Students use hands-on, concrete objects.

REPRESENTATIONAL: Students draw shapes, x's, and o's, or tally marks to ‘represent' the concrete objects.

ABSTRACT: Students use numerals and equations to describe the concrete.


Let's take a closer look at using math mats to teach the ‘doubles' strategy.


Give the student many opportunities to practice the concept using a variety of manipulatives.  We want to ensure students understand the concept in this Concrete phase before moving to the Representational phase. 


Students use the same math mat as was used in the Concrete phase.

Put it in a dry-erase pocket so the mat can be used with many of the ‘doubles' facts.


This math mat makes it easy for your students to visualize the math situation and begin using digits and symbols to represent the ‘Doubles' strategy.

I love using these math mats because they provide the scaffolding that so many of our students need.

#2 Doubles Tip: ASSESS the Doubles

This excellent tool allows you to track each student’s progress, differentiate for their needs, and provide targeted learning with lessons, specific games, and activities.

These timed tests may be used for pre-assessment or post-assessment.

It's an excellent tool for differentiating future review and practice for students who learn at different rates.

I have also added a growth mindset element to each assessment's Student Goal Setting section.

There are two versions for assessing each strategy, so students do not always have the same assessment as they are mastering a strategy.

#3 Doubles Tip: MOTIVATE

It can be hard for students to learn basic math facts. Motivation can help make it easier. For students who understand math concepts and facts, motivation can encourage them to learn more and go deeper. For struggling students, motivation can be the push they need to succeed. Motivated students also have more stamina and resilience and can better process information.

Student progress tracking and setting goals have been shown to increase student motivation.

Students get motivated to master their math facts when they start tracking and setting goals!

Reward tags and awards are also effective in motivating students to master addition strategies.

Like fuel to a fire!


The assessment data allow you to assign games and activities to students based on their needs and even differentiate homework for each child.


Providing practice in the specific concept a student has not yet mastered is highly effective.  That is why assessments are such a valuable tool for teachers! They provide us with the information to help each of our students are their area of need.

Without this additional practice, our students will not remember the facts in the long term…. like next year when they are challenged with increasingly complex math concepts and skills.

Let's look at some engaging ways to provide that independent practice to your students.


Each game focuses on a specific mental math strategy.

Having games that are strategy-based available gives you the inventory to assign specifically to each student's particular need.

Your students will love playing these superhero addition strategy games! The fun that they have during the practice speeds up the learning process!


These ‘doubles' poke cards are self-checking, giving your students immediate feedback that promotes learning faster than delayed feedback.  You may use them with or without the included recording sheets.

They are perfect in math centers, small groups, or partner work.


The flashcards are designed using the Part-Part-Whole model, so students increase their number sense using them.

Many ways to use them:


These color-by-code practice activities are also available for each mental math strategy, so you can easily differentiate practice for each student.

You are giving them practice that is not too hard or too easy but just right. 😉

Check here to learn more about color-by-code practice – and get a free sample!


These NO PREP worksheets promote number sense, providing practice with the Part-Part-Whole model, number families, a puzzle, and a game.

They are perfect for guided practice, math centers, independent practice, or homework.

Doubles mental math is an excellent strategy for addition facts and can help students become fluent. By using the five tips outlined in this post, you'll be sure to introduce and reinforce it with your own students. All that's left to do is practice!

Use the FREE Doubles Printables to provide differentiated practice to your students.


My name is Peggy Means. I am a child of God and a retired elementary teacher. I loved teaching and creating engaging resources for my students. Now, I love sharing my resources and ideas with busy teachers around the world.

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