Addition and Subtraction Game – Lucky Number

Addition and Subtraction Game - Lucky Number

A simple addition and subtraction game to teach early years students to think about what numbers they need to add or subtract to reach a specific number. This game is also good practice for counting on.Addition and Subtraction Game - Lucky Number

Learning outcomes:

  • Learning how different numbers can be put together to equal other numbers
  • Counting on strategies
  • Basic addition
  • Basic subtraction
  • Mental processing

Required Material:

  • Box of counters
  • Class of students
  • 6 sided dice, enough for 1 between 2 students

Aim of the game:

To roll a dice and use the number rolled to either add that amount or subtract that amount of counters to equal a specific number.

How to Play:

  1. Put your students into pairs.
  2. Give each student a pile of counters.
  3. Give the students a specific number that they have to equal, it can be a number that they are currently learning about (for example I just played this game with my students and asked them to equal 10)
  4. In pairs the students each take turns to roll the dice, the number they roll is how many counters they need to take to start trying to equal the target number. (Sarah rolls a 4 so she needs to take 4 counters)
  5. Each time they roll they add on that many counters. (If her next turn Sarah roles a 3, she now has a total of 7 counters)
  6. If a student reaches the exact amount (in our case 10) then their partner needs to keep playing until they also reach 10.
  7. However if a student gets more than the target number they need to start subtracting the amount that is shown on the dice. (They continue to add if they have less than the target number and subtract if they have more, until they reach it exactly)


Model this game in a class circle first, as it is a game for early years students they may need lots of guidance before they play in pairs. While modelling, demonstrate that you are thinking about what number you will need to role to reach the target number. The students will enjoy knowing what number they need to roll before they roll the dice as it adds an element of suspense, this also encourages mental addition and subtraction. It’s up to you whether you have a winner or not, I tend to avoid the term ‘winner’ with this age students but it’s a good lesson for them to learn that it’s ok to not be the ‘winner’, especially a game like this which is based on luck.

by Gareth Brown