Pattern Block Triangles

This beautiful lesson combines student creative work, counting and addition practice, combining geometric shapes, and a slow build from easier to more challenging work.

Fill the Stairs

Fill the Stairs requires the thoughtful placement of two-digit numbers in order from least to greatest, before all the numbers are known. Overall, it is a fun and compelling game that holds up after repeated playing.

Penny, Nickel, Dime

This version of Don’t Break the Bank is a hit with students, and also helps give a concrete meaning to place value by linking it to both money, addition, estimation, and multiplying by fives and tens. It takes very little time, so it can be used as a warmup, station activity, or in those five minutes before class ends. While …

Story Problem – A Trip to the Bakery

This set of story problems resists easy answers, but can be cracked if students build models or draw pictures of the situation. For students who finish early, have them create their own “Trip to the Bakery” story problem.

Pyramid Puzzles

Pyramid puzzles are a fun and deceptively tricky puzzle. Sometimes these can’t be done without some risk taking—encourage guessing and checking, and learning from the inevitable mistakes, especially on the harder puzzles. More on Pyramid Puzzles here.

Dots and Boxes

This classic game is great for strategy, mathematical thinking, and basic counting and addition.


Magic Triangles

Topics: Addition, Subtraction, Logic Materials: Pencil and paper Recommended Grades: 1, 2, 3 Common Core: K.OA.A.2, K.OA.A.4, 1.OA.A.2, 1.OA.B.3, 1.OA.B.4, 1.OA.C.5,1.OA.C.6, 1.OA.D.8, 2.OA.B.2, MP1. Magic Triangles are a simple addition/missing addend problem that creates opportunities for higher level thinking. Kids must place the numbers 1 through 6 on the outside of a triangle to make the numbers on each side sum to …

Magic Squares

Topics: Addition, Subtraction, Logic Materials: Pencil and paper, Recommended Grades: 2, 3, 4 Common Core: Put the numbers 1-9 into a square so that every column, row, and diagonal adds to 15. Why We Love Magic Squares This is a truly historical problem, with roots in cultures around the world. The arithmetic looks fairly simple at first, but the problem …

The Hundred Chart Game

Topics: addition, subtraction, strategy Materials: Two types of tokens (gems & pawns), hundreds chart Recommended Grades: 1, 2, 3 Common Core: 1.NBT.C.4, 1.NBT.C.5, 1.NBT.C.6, C2.NBT.B.5 Add and subtract 10s and 1s to pick up the tokens on the hundreds chart. Why We Love The Hundred Chart Game This game delivers tons of addition and subtraction practice in a way kids love. …

Flower Petal Puzzles

Topics: addition, subtraction, logic Materials: Worksheets, pencil and scratch paper Recommended Grades: 1, 2, 3 Common Core: 1.OA.A.2, 1.OA.C.6, 1.OA.D.8, 2.OA.B.2, MP1, MP7 Put each number in a “petal” so each line of three numbers in a row has the same sum. Why We Love Flower Petal Puzzles This is a simple but thought-provoking puzzle. It’s a great way to …