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.

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.

The Calendar Problem

Topics: Multiplication, addition, Materials: Calendar, Hundreds chart, pencil and paper, calculator (optional) Common Core: 4.OA.1, 4.OA.3, 4.OA.5, 4.NBT.5, MP1, MP2, MP3, MP6, MP7, MP8 How can you add up these numbers so quickly? Why we love this lesson Simple to launch, instantly engaging and accessible, this puzzle is a beautiful demonstration of the usefulness of multiplication. Not only that, figuring …

Sum – Memory

  Topics: Addition Materials: Cards Recommended grades: K, 1, 2, 3 Common Core: K.OA.A.2, K.OA.A.4, K.OA.A.5, 1.OA.C.6, 2.OA.B.2 Sum-Memory is Memory with a twist: instead of trying to capture identical pairs, players are trying to find pairs that add up to 5, 10, or another target number. Why we love Sum-Memory Sum-Memory is all the fun of memory, but with the …

1-2 Nim

Topics: logic, patterns, addition, counting, subtraction, divisibility and remainders (optional) Materials: Counters (tiles, beans, pennies, etc.) or paper and pencil Recommended Grades: K, 1, 2, 3, 4 Common Core: K.CC.A.2, K.CC.B.4, K.CC.B.5, K.OA.A.1, K.OA.A.2, K.OA.A.5, 1.OA.B.4, 1.OA.C.5, 2.OA.B.2, 3.OA.D.9, 3.OA.A.2, 3.OA.A.3, 4.OA.C.5, MP1, MP2, MP3, MP5, MP7, MP8 You can take one or two counters from the pile. How do …

Counting Collections

Topics: Counting, skip counting, addition, multiplication (optional) Materials: Paper, pencil, objects of many types (button, beans, stones, pencils, markers, blocks, etc.) 
Common Core: K.CC.A.1, K.CC.A.2, K.CC.A.3, K.CC.B.4, K.CC.B.5, K.MD.B.3, 1.NBT.A.1, 1.NBT.B.2, 1.NBT.B.2.a, 1.NBT.B.2.b, 1.NBT.B.2.c, 2.OA.C.4, 3.OA.A.1, MP1, MP6 Kids love to count things. This is a simple exercise, but a great way to get kids excited about arithmetic. Counting Collections …


Don’t Break the Bank!

How to Play Everyone makes a diagram like this on their paper: Whole Class Game: The teacher (or a student) rolls the die. Whatever number it lands on, everyone enters it in one of the nine spots on the board. After nine turns, the board becomes an addition problem with three 3-digit numbers to add together. The goal is to …