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

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  • Pattern block addition: Students will practice addition, problem solving, and writing equations in the context of a fun and challenging pattern game.
  • Supermarket sweep: Day 2: Students will participate in a supermarket game and follow a shopping list. Students will compare the quantity of items “purchased” and graph results. Students will also learn a song about shopping in a supermarket.
  • M&M math: Rotating to each station using M&M's, this lesson will allow students to add, graph, sort, and estimate.

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Learning outcomes

Students will review math skills already taught.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

20 minutes


  • 1 or 2 large bags of candy (M&M’s, Skittles, Jelly Beans)
  • small medicine cup (1-2 oz)
  • clear jar (to hold 10-15 small cups of candy)
  • paper towels or napkins
  • graph paper or chart
  • post-it-notes
  • large index cards
  • glue


Teacher should have already taught objectives listed.


  1. Estimation: Fill the medicine cup with candy. Allow students to guess how many it takes to fill the jar. Record guesses in the form of a graph. (Have students write name on post-it-note and place the note under hisher predicted number.) After you have filled 4-5 cups and put in the jar, allow students to adjust their predictions. Then continue until jar is full.
  2. Shapes: Use 12 candies to make a circle. Ask students how many on each side? Repeat same procedure for creating a square, triangle, rectangle. Allow students to create a picture using shapes. Students can glue on an index card to display.
  3. Sort: Sort by color. You can order sorting results from least to greatest. Discuss comparisons. Using a prepared graph, students can graph results by least to greatest.
  4. Patterns: Teacher creates a color pattern and students contine that pattern. Students can create their own color pattern.
  5. Addition: Put yellow and red together. How many yellow candies do you have? How many red candies do you have? How many in all? After students have practiced several different color arrangements, allow students time to record. They can choose their favorite arrangements and glue candies to an index card and record math sentence. This would be a good student-created bulletin board.
  6. Subtracting: Sort by colors. How many red candies do you have? Eat one. Now how many? etc. Students can record and create their own math sentence.


Teacher observation. Student-made patterns, graphs, and addition and subtraction displays. (Items could be placed in student portfolios.)

Supplemental information


I got some of these ideas from a workshop titled, INTEGRATING PROBLEM SOLVING by Deanna K. Hanlin.

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

        • Geometry
          • 1.G.2 Compose two-dimensional shapes (rectangles, squares, trapezoids, triangles, half-circles, and quarter-circles) or three-dimensional shapes (cubes, right rectangular prisms, right circular cones, and right circular cylinders) to create a composite shape,...
        • 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.4Understand the relationship between numbers and quantities; connect counting to cardinality. When counting objects, say the number names in the standard order, pairing each object with one and only one number name and each number name with one and only...
        • Geometry
          • K.G.5Model shapes in the world by building shapes from components (e.g., sticks and clay balls) and drawing shapes.
        • 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.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Mathematics (2004)


  • Goal 1: Number and Operations - The learner will recognize, model, and write whole numbers through 30.
    • Objective 1.01: Develop number sense for whole numbers through 30.
      • Connect model, number word (orally), and number, using a variety of representations.
      • Count objects in a set.
      • Read and write numerals.
      • Compare and order sets and numbers.
      • Use ordinals (1st-10th).
      • Estimate quantities fewer than or equal to 10.
      • Recognize equivalence in sets and numbers 1-10.
  • Goal 5: Algebra - The learner will model simple patterns and sort objects.
    • Objective 5.01: Sort and classify objects by one attribute.