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Breaking Apart Addends to Solve Math

by Christopher Cascio, studioD

Breaking apart addends as a way to solve an addition problem means to reorganize the numbers in a way that makes the numbers easier to calculate. This multistep technique often involves rearranging the addends -- the numbers being added together -- into groups of tens and ones, and then adding the tens and ones individually before adding them together to produce the final sum.

Restructuring for Tens and Ones

Write the addition problem 27 + 13 = ___ on the paper.

Break 27 into 20 + 7, and 13 into 10 + 3.

Add 20 + 10 to get 30. Then, add 7 + 3 to get 10.

Add 30 + 10 to obtain the total sum of 40: 27 + 13 = 40.

Items you will need
  •  Pencil
  •  Paper


  • Instead of restructuring simply for tens and ones, you can also restructure to create groups of tens -- numbers that end in zero. For example, in the problem 27 + 13 = ___, you could combine 27 and the 3 from 13 to get 30 + 10, which produces the same sum of 40. You can also restructure to create groups of fives along with tens: 22 + 13 = 35 becomes 20 + 10 + 5 = 35. Whichever organization you choose for a problem, remember that you are reorganizing the numbers to make the problem easier.


  • Remember that any number value you take away from one addend must be added to another within the problem, or else your sum will be incorrect.

About the Author

Christopher Cascio is a memoirist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and literature from Southampton Arts at Stony Brook Southampton, and a Bachelor of Arts in English with an emphasis in the rhetoric of fiction from Pennsylvania State University. His literary work has appeared in "The Southampton Review," "Feathertale," "Kalliope" and "The Rose and Thorn Journal."

Photo Credits

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