Video: Adding Zero in a Real-World Context

If I have 4 marbles and you give me 0 marbles, then I still have 4 marbles. So, 4 + 0 = 4. If I have 0 marbles and you give me 4 marbles, how many marbles do I have? Write an addition sentence to show the answer.

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Video Transcript

If I have four marbles and you give me zero marbles, then I still have four marbles. So, four plus zero equals four. If I have zero marbles and you give me four marbles, how many marbles do I have? Write an addition sentence to show the answer.

This problem is a little bit like a story. And we could use maths equipment to help us find out what the answer is. Let’s read it through again from the very start. Firstly, we’re told that we begin with four marbles. It says, if I have four marbles. So, let’s start by taking four counters. These can represent our four marbles.

In the problem, we’re told that you do something to my four marbles. You give me another zero marbles. We know that zero is the same as nothing. That’s why the hand at the top of the picture hasn’t got anything in it. And that’s also why if we’re using counters to show this problem, we don’t need any. Zero means no more.

The sentence goes on to tell us that if you give me zero marbles, I will still have four marbles. And this story is also represented by an addition sentence or an equation. Four plus zero equals four. We can also see this by looking at the part–whole model we’ve made using counters. Four counters plus no more counters makes a total of four counters. When we add zero to a number, it stays the same.

The next part of our story problem ends in a question. If I have zero marbles and you give me four marbles, how many marbles do I have? We can see this being shown in the picture, too. Here’s my hand. It has zero marbles in it. And here’s your hand giving me four marbles. To find the answer, we need to add together zero and four. We could even write these numbers as part of our addition sentence straightaway. We know that what we need to do is to add zero, that’s the number that I have to begin with, and four, that’s the number that you give me. Let’s use counters again to model what we’re being asked.

I start off with zero marbles. So, we don’t need to draw any counters there. Then, you give me four marbles. Now, we need to combine both sets of counters to show what the total is. The total is four. The number of marbles that I have now is four. If we add a number to zero, the answer’s going to be the same as the number we added. The addition sentence or equation that shows the answer to this problem is zero plus four equals four.

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