Addition Train | Activities | WTTW Kids Learn & Play

In this active tutorial, students will serve as train cars, working together to balance the two train lengths. Children will gain a better understanding of the flexibility of numbers as they help the educator assemble equal amounts.

Cartoon girl choosing numbered key rings

Activity Prep

  1. Before the activity, two signs should be created, one reading “Train #1” and another reading “Train #2. The signs can be made with card stock and a long string attached to the two upper corners of the sign.
  2. Find two adults to lead the “trains” in the activity. If only one other adult is available, set up the room so that you can both lead and participate in the activity.


  1. Tell the children that they are going to be practicing their addition skills in a “train”-building activity. Wear one of the signs or find two adult helpers to wear them so that the presenter can play a more active role in the activity.
  2. Tell the children that they are going to be cars pulled by a train, and both trains need to be even in order to move. Select five children to add to Train #1. Select two children to add to Train #2. Any adults at the front of the train should pretend they cannot move because the number of cars in each train is not even. Ask the children if they need to add more cars to Train #1 or #2. Then ask how many more cars need to be added to Train #2 to make the trains even. When three children are added, the adults will lead the train around the room before coming back to the starting position/station.
  3. Play another round, this time adding more children to Train #2.

Considerations/Modifications/Extension Activities

  1. For more adventurous children, extend the activity to deal with subtraction as well as addition.
  2. Due to the varying skill levels of children, having adults assist with this activity could be extremely helpful.

Common Core Learning Standards for Math

  • The child will represent addition and subtraction with objects, fingers, mental images, drawings, sounds, acting out situations, verbal explanations, expressions, or equations. (CCSS.MATH. CONTENT.K.OA.A.1)

Items Needed

  • Signs designating Train #1 and Train #2 (can be made with card stock, string, and a marker)