Lesson plan

Adding with M&M's

Use a sweet treat to help students do hands-on math! Students will practice their addition skills in this yummy activity.
Need extra help for EL students? Try the Addition Number Grab pre-lesson.
EL Adjustments
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Need extra help for EL students? Try the Addition Number Grab pre-lesson.

Combine chocolate candy and hands-on math with this fun learning activity. The lesson plan Adding with M&M’s is all about addition. First graders learning about addition and counting on will use physical counters—in this case, pieces of chocolate—to help them add up numbers. They will use these tools to explore number sentences, addition word problems, and other math skills together as a class. Then, after they’ve shown off what they’ve learned, everyone can eat their math treats!

Students will be able to show addition problems using M&M's as objects.

The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
EL adjustments
(15 minutes)
  • Begin the lesson by discussing addition. Potential questions include: What does it mean to add? How do we add? What is an example of adding? Make sure to mention that when they add, the students are making one number bigger by joining two or more numbers.
  • Ask your students what equal means. Remind them that when two numbers are equal, they are the same. Tell them that when adding two numbers together, the result is the sum.
  • Read The M&M's Addition Book by Barbara Barbieri McGrath.
(10 minutes)
  • Review how in the book, M&M's were added together to make new numbers.
  • Distribute the same number of M&M's to every student, and make sure there are enough for every student to add numbers up to 20.
  • Direct your students to separate the M&M's by color. Make sure that they don't eat any until after the activity has been completed.
  • With a whiteboard or projector, show different examples of number statements using different colored M&M's. For example, if a student has two green M&M's and 3 red M&M's, he could write: 2 green + 3 red = 5 M&M's.
(15 minutes)
  • Pass out paper, pencils, and candy to each student.
  • Have your students work in partners to help keep one another on track.
  • Ask your students to come up with as many different examples as they can. For example, if a student has 25 M&M's total, encourage her to come up with five or more number statements, such as 3 blue + 8 red = 11 M&M's, 10 yellow + 12 brown = 22 M&M's.
(5 minutes)
  • Have your students create three number sentences independently. Encourage them to create new number statements that they haven't made yet.
  • Have them lay out different number sentences on their papers before writing them down. This way, they can visualize the numbers before writing.
  • Enrichment: Students who understand the concept may use more than two colors in their number sentences. Or, encourage students to use more than 10 of one color.
  • Support: For students who need more support, have them move the M&M's as they are counting them.
(5 minutes)
  • Walk around the room to check on the students' number statements. Make sure they are correct and labeled.
(5 minutes)
  • Have the class share some of their number sentences they came up with during independent work time.
  • Allow the class to eat their treats.

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