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Basic Arithmetic Parent Resources You Can Make

Updated on October 24, 2014

Math Tiles


Teaching Basic Arithmetic: A Free Printable Resource for Parents

So, you wish to help your child learn arithmetic. The first thing you must understand is only some children will understand numbers by watching problems being worked. Some are visual learners, and others require hands-on activities. To reach the visual and hands-on children, number tiles are an excellent resource.

Intro Image: This image is from Amazon.

Plastic Number Tiles

Number tiles are available in plastic sets. The advantage of having plastic sets is durability. The negative is they can get lost, and if you need number tiles today, do yo0u really have time to buy another set with enough tiles to work the problems?

Making Your Own Arithmetic Tiles

First, you would have a better set of tiles if the 1 tiles, the 10 tiles, the hundred tiles, and the thousand tiles were different colors. This is not really required, but it certainly makes the work easier.

Now consider durability. Card stock paper would certainly make better tiles. If you just have paper, that is fine, but card stock is much better.

If you can find colored card stock, great. Choose a different color for each type of tile: the 1 tiles, the 10 tiles, the hundred tiles, and the 1,000 tiles. Try to find a pack of different color card stock paper, if possible. If not, color the background on your computer.

To make the tiles, make a table, with each cell in the table the size tile you wish. About 1.5 in. by 1.5 in. should do nicely. Make as many cells as possible. Next, center the table horizontally on the page. In the center of each tile enter the number 1, 10, 100, or 1,000. Use only one number per page. Now, choose the color, place the paper in the printer, and print. If you wish to print both sides, do so. That is the reason for centering the table. The numbers should still fall in the centers of the cells.

Finally, make a table with the symbols, such as +. You can make all of the symbols in one color, and use the same paper. Just use only one symbol per row if you intend to print on both sides.

Solving Arithmetic Problems with Tiles

Addition: To add two numbers like 13 + 43, take one ten tile and three one tiles for thirteen, and four ten tiles and three one tiles for forty-three. Make a group of tiles for each number, as shown below. (Stack vertically so all tiles can be viewed.)

A stack of one ten tile followed by a stack of three one tiles, then add a + tile and finally make a stack of four ten tiles and three one tiles. Now place the = tile and make the answer. You should have the number of ten tiles you see and the number of one tiles you see in the answer. Count the tiles. There are five ten tiles and six one tiles, so the answer is 56.

But, what happens when you add 34 + 27. You would have 5 ten tiles and 11 one tiles. Stack no higher than ten in the answer. Now, trade a stack of ten ones for one ten tile. Add this to the other ten tiles you have. You now have 6 ten tiles and 1 one tile. The answer is 61.

Remember, 10 ten tiles can be traded for 1 hundred tile, and 10 hundred tiles can be traded for one thousand tile.

Subtracting with tiles.

Subtraction: Set up the numbers just like you did in addition, except use the negative side of the tiles for the second number. For example, subtract 23 from 68. This problem is 68 – 23.

Set up the problem by representing 68 with 6 ten tiles and 8 one tiles. Then add a – tile. Represent 23 with 2 negative 10 tiles and 3 negative 3 tiles. The negatives are on the back. Next, place the = tile. Pair up +10 and -10 tiles, and + 1 and -1 tiles, and discard. What is left is placed after the = tile. It should be 4 ten tiles and 5 one tiles. the answer is again found by counting.

68 – 23 = 45

Now suppose there are too few tiles of one type to remove. In 71 – 34, the first number is represented by 7 ten tiles and 1 one tile, and the second number is represented by 3 negative ten tiles and 4 negative one tiles. There are too few one tiles to pair up with the negative one tiles. In this case, trade a ten tile in the first number for 10 one tiles. Now, match and discard tiles as before. There should ne 3 ten tiles and 7 one tiles left, indicating the answer is 37.

Multiplication: In multiplication, using only one tiles is adequate. To multiple two numbers, such as 3 X 4, make three piles of four tiles each. Now count the tiles. There should be 12.

3 X 4 = 12

It is just as acceptable to make four piles of three tiles each.

Division: To divide one number, the divisor, into another, the dividend, two parts of the answer are found, the quotient and the remainder. Suppose 5 is divided into 32.


Just as with multiplication, only one tiles are needed. Make 5 piles. Place one tile in each tile, then repeat, until you have too few tiles remaining to add equally. Each pile should have 8 tiles, and there should be 2 tiles remaining.

32/5 = 6 with a remainder of 2.

If you have all of your tiles looking identical, just keep the different denominations separated.

Please leave your comments.

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    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      6 years ago from Ljubljana

      When worked as a teacher I was always saying: respect math, it never lies, math is your friend you can always count on. It is still true.

    • LeopoldBlatt profile image


      7 years ago

      It is so difficult to explain math in text format but you have managed it very well. Nice article, very helpful.

    • Brandi Bush profile image


      7 years ago from Maryland

      The tiles are a good idea. Manipulatives are very helpful for visual and hands-on learners. Nice lens! :)

      P.S. Thanks for visiting my Gifts for Bigfoot Enthusiasts lens! :)

    • writerkath profile image


      7 years ago

      Stuff like this would have helped me as a kid. :) BTW - followed the link from our connection at RedGage! See? It works! :)

    • BusyMOM LM profile image

      BusyMOM LM 

      7 years ago

      great ideas here! I wish I had had math taught to me in some of the ways you describe.

    • sousababy profile image


      7 years ago

      Oh my goodness, math is just so much better nowadays. I still remember that 12 x 12 is as high as our tables went as a kid. I'd be hard-pressed to tell you what 13 x 13 is - ha! Thank you for sharing such great resources for parents.

    • goo2eyes lm profile image

      goo2eyes lm 

      7 years ago

      i made a multiplication table so it is easy for the kids to memorize.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      My friends tought their kids math with these types of tiles, but now I know how to make them myself I'll definitely give them a try :) liked, facebooked, +1;ed and pinned...great lens!

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 

      7 years ago from New Zealand

      This looks very interesting and well explained. I got lost, I think I will continue doing arithmetic the old fashion way,that I learnt in the 1940-50's.

      Thanks for sharing. Blessed


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