Year 2

FREE maths resources for all

Year 2 Menu

We can add and subtract two-digit numbers in columns.

Year 2 Unit 16b

What we are learning:

  • Now that we are confident with addition and subtraction we are learning to set the sums out in columns
  • Children will be introduced to the column method at the stage in their maths education when the teacher feels it is appropriate according to their ability to understand and use this method. Remember that progressing to a different method is not a race, and introducing your child to a concept that they are not ready for can shake confidence.
  • We are adding and subtracting two-digit numbers
  • At this stage the sums we are doing have no carrying into the tens column (exchange) or partitioning of tens for subtraction
  • This strategy reinforces the understanding of place value and prepares the way for more complicated addition and subtraction in the future
  • We set out addition and subtraction in columns like this:

It can be helpful to label the columns as U for units and T for tens
When we are adding or subtracting in columns we always start from the units column.


Activities you can do at home:

Write out some simple two-digit addition and subtraction sums in columns and calculate the answers together.

Ask your children to set out the sums, on the attached activity sheets, in columns and then do the calculations together, ensuring they start in the correct column

Good questions to ask

How can we set this out in columns?
How do we know that the numbers are in the right position underneath each other?
Does it matter which number is on the top and which is on the bottom of the calculation? (No for addition, Yes for subtraction). Why is this the case?

If your child:

Finds it difficult to set out the calculations in neat columns
Used squared paper and put each digit in a square by itself. This will ensure that the columns are vertical. If your child finds this difficult it may be that the squares are too small for their writing style – try bigger squares so that
the handwriting challenge does not limit their maths.

Put the numbers in the incorrect columns, i.e. they are not underneath each other correctly
Check with your child that they have remembered their place value – which digits represent units and which represent tens? Then talk together to see if the units are in a column underneath each other and the tens are too.

Extension Activity

Please use this activity when you think your child understands the unit of work. It will deepen and extend your child’s understanding of this unit.


Extension activity (PDF)

Extension activity answers (PDF)