2, 4, 6 Puzzle

The 2-4-6 Puzzle teaches an invaluable lesson about inductive reasoning, confirmation bias, and how “wrong” answers lead to deeper knowledge. It can be adapted with different rules for endless play options and difficulties. Also see Josh Golden’s writeup of Eleusis Express for a card game version of the game, perfect to play with standard cards, SET cards, or Tiny Polka …

Subtracting Reverses

This extraordinary lesson combines base ten subtraction practice with an irresistible mystery. A pattern slowly reveals itself as the class compiles data.


Cuisenaire Rods for K/1/2

Topics: Addition, subtraction, measurement, skip counting Materials: See specific lessons Recommended Grade: K, 1, 2 Common Core: K.CC.B.4, K.CC.B.5, K.OA.A.1, K.OA.A.2, K.OA.A.3, 1.OA.A.1, 1.OA.A.2, 1.OA.D.7 Overview This series of lessons is meant to introduce Cuisenaire rods in a creative, engaging way, and see how Cuisenaire rods can illuminate and motivate addition, subtraction, and measurement. Why We Love Cuisenaire Rods Cuisenaire rods are …


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 …