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 – The Kite

  Looking for more? Check out this student generated extra challenge question on this story. Remember that you can always ask students to come up with their own challenge problems if they finish early!


Story Problem – The Monster

For this long-form story problem, read the story to your class first, then give them the questions to answer, and the story as a reference. Optional artistic tie-in: draw a picture of the monster. Optional challenge: write another question about the story.

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.

What’s the biggest rectangle?

Math concepts: Area, perimeter, number patterns Materials: Graph paper, pencil Tags: 3.MD.7.a-b, 4.OA2, 4.OA.3, 4.OA.5, 4.OA.5, 5.OA.3, MP1, MP2, MP3, MP5, MP6, MP7. Of all the rectangles with a given perimeter, which one has the largest area? This simple question launches a fascinating exploration. The Launch Remind students of the definition of area and perimeter. Then pose the following question: …


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 …