K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education


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  • Domino fun!: Students will use a domino turned vertically and count the dots in the top section and the dots in the bottom section and add the 2 numbers together and write an equation. Students can make a domino to eat.
  • Bunny addition: This lesson integrates language arts, music, and math. The children will listen to the story Count on Bunnies. They will be given the opportunity to act out the story and solve bunny equations. After listening to the song "Five Young Rabbits," the children will take turns being rabbits and pantomiming the actions as the class sings. The children will combine the rabbits at the end of each verse to see how many rabbits have been added. Then they will work in pairs to create their own rabbit equations.
  • Piggin' out with money: Students will work with money manipulatives to solve word problems that involve adding money amounts and making change. The lesson is introduced with the literature book, Pigs Will be Pigs. After solving the problems posed in the book, the students will work with partners to create their "pig problems". Assessment will require students to solve similar problems on a teacher made worksheet. When time allows, each student will have the opportunity to go to an Internet site to work with money problems and games.

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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • understand the process of subtraction through hands-on manipulation of taking groups apart.
  • relate their own funny math stories to a math sentence (7-3=4).
  • begin to organize a strategy for finding differences.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

90 minutes


  • Piggies by Don and Audrey Wood.
  • Adding mats with 2 hands on a solid background. All ten fingers need to be visible.
  • 10 Unifix cubes per student.
  • Scrap paper
  • Puff ball piggies. Piggies are made with 2 pink puff balls glued together. Use felt pipe cleaners to add piggie features.
  • 1 pair of gloves (not mittens)
  • self-adhesive velcro


Prior to this, students should have already been introduced the concept of addition and have had plenty of opportunities to act out stories using addition. Also, you should have introduced the “math sentence” and how that sentence describes the math stories.


Day One

  1. Read Piggies and act out with the gloves and puff ball piggies as you read. (If possible, one adult will read the book while another adult acts out the story.)
  2. Reread story. As the pigs begin to go away, stop and (orally) relate the math story to the math sentence. (For instance, “There were 10 piggies. One went away and nine were left. That would be 10-1=9.”) As the story continues, children will notice the pattern of taking away one and stating the appropriate math sentence will be easy. (Sometimes I have my children come and write the sentence on our white board or on individual chalk boards.)
  3. Review by emphasizing math sentences must correlate to the math story.

Day Two

  1. Reread story. Children may enjoy taking part in acting story out with gloves and piggies.
  2. Extend the story idea by making up your own piggie stories and writing appropriate math sentences. As you create your math stories, the children use their workmats and unifix cubes to act out the story (For example, 10-3=7.) Let the children make up their own stories. They can come up to the front of the room and act out their story and write their math sentence on the board while the children act out stories with the workmats and unifix cubes.
  3. Children extend this further by writing appropriate math sentences to student’s math stories.


I assess the children by observing them during the activities. Most children find the activities fun and it is a great way for them to show me their understandings! Concrete assessment is done by retaining the sentences written in Part 3 of Day 2’s Activities.

Supplemental information


This lesson works best when another adult can help. My assistant and I do this together.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • Mathematics (2010)
      • Grade 1

        • Operations & Algebraic Thinking
          • 1.OAT.1 Use addition and subtraction within 20 to solve word problems involving situations of adding to, taking from, putting together, taking apart, and comparing, with unknowns in all positions, e.g., by using objects, drawings, and equations with a symbol...
      • Kindergarten

        • Counting & Cardinality
          • K.CC.5Count to answer “how many?” questions about as many as 20 things arranged in a line, a rectangular array, or a circle, or as many as 10 things in a scattered configuration; given a number from 1–20, count out that many objects.
        • Operations & Algebraic Thinking
          • K.OAT.1Represent addition and subtraction with objects, fingers, mental images, drawings1, sounds (e.g., claps), acting out situations, verbal explanations, expressions, or equations.
          • K.OAT.2Solve addition and subtraction word problems, and add and subtract within 10, e.g., by using objects or drawings to represent the problem.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Mathematics (2004)

Grade 1

  • Goal 1: Number and Operations - The learner will read, write, and model whole numbers through 99 and compute with whole numbers.
    • Objective 1.03: Develop fluency with single-digit addition and corresponding differences using strategies such as modeling, composing and decomposing quantities, using doubles, and making tens.
    • Objective 1.04: Create, model, and solve problems that use addition, subtraction, and fair shares (between two or three).