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.
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Need extra help for EL students? Try the Addition Number Grab pre-lesson.
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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!

Learning Objectives

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.


  • Review the numbers one to 20 with students by seating students in circle. Pass an item such as a stuffed animal around the circle and instruct students to say the next number in the counting sequence when it is their turn.
  • Point to each number on a number line as students say the number name.


  • Create an anchor chart of math vocabulary such as add, plus sign, equal sign, and sum. Allow students to come up and add examples of the terms and symbols to the chart.

Related Guided Lesson

Number Sense 1

4 games
1 song video
1 interactive story
5 printable worksheets
View Guided Lesson
first grade
Subject Math