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Lesson Plans
Wild About Word Problems
1st–2nd Grade


CCSS Math/Operations and Algebraic Thinking: 1.OA.1, 1.OA.2

  • 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 by using objects, drawings, and equations with a symbol for the unknown number to represent the problem.
  • Solve word problems that call for addition of three whole numbers whose sum is less than or equal to 20 by using objects, drawings, and situations with a symbol for the unknown number to represent the problem.
Materials Materials Needed
Introduction Introduction

Read aloud Animals on Board by Stuart J. Murphy. As you read, encourage students to help you solve the word problems that are presented in the story. Then point out how the problems are represented in numeric form to show the sum. For example, you might say, “There were three tigers. Along came two more. 3 + 2 = how many?”

Procedure Procedure

  1. Using a variety of Wild Animal Counters, show students how to set up story problems and solve for the answers. (Other animal manipulatives that include the animals in the problems can be used.) Model ways to set up and solve equations. For example, use five zebras and two goats. Say, “Five zebras were running across a field. Two goats joined them. How many animals are there now? 5 + 2 = 7.”
  2. Display each of the Animal Story Problems on an easel, document camera, chart paper, chalkboard or whiteboard for students to see. (An answer key is provided.) Then invite a few volunteers at a time to use the animals to “act out” the story problem. Do the first two problems, and then have students complete the remaining equations independently or with a partner.
Independent Practice Independent Practice

  1. Give each student a copy of the Create-Your-Own Animal Story Problems, or have them share one copy with a partner. Challenge students to fill in numbers to create their own story problems. Then have students—or their partners—solve their problems and write the correct answer.
  2. Invite students to share the problems they created and “act out” the story with their animal manipulatives to illustrate the problems.
  3. Make copies of the Animal Story Problems and Create-Your-Own Animal Story Problems, and place them in a center with the animal manipulatives. Invite students to practice animal math!

View the 1st–2nd grade lesson plan. (Includes all printable materials.)
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