EL Support Lesson

Let's Add!

Students will get plenty of practice adding within 5 as they solve word problems with real-life contexts! Use this scaffolded EL Lesson alone or for more addition practice before teaching **Ice Cream Addition to Five**.
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Ice Cream Addition to Five lesson plan.
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This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Ice Cream Addition to Five lesson plan.

Students will be able to solve basic addition problems to 5.


Students will be able to explain and model steps to calculate sums within 5 using objects and pictures.

(3 minutes)
  • Tell students the story problem, "I love to check out books from the library! On Monday I checked out two books. On Tuesday I checked out one more book. How many books did I check out in all?"
  • Show students a bin of books, and select a student to come up and show how many books you checked out on Monday. Count the books and restate, "Yes, I checked out two books on Monday."
  • Select a student to show how many books you checked out on Tuesday, and add one book to the stack.
  • Ask students to show you on their fingers how many books you checked out in all (three).
(5 minutes)
  • Explain to students that, "Two and one is three." Tell students that when we want to know how many of something we have in all, we use addition.
  • Ask students which math sign is needed to add (plus sign). Students can form a cross sign with their arms and repeat, "Plus sign."
  • Write 2 + 1 = 3 on the board, and explain that "two plus one equals three" is another way of saying "two and one is three."
  • Share another story problem to solve for a sum within five, "I went on a hike and found three rocks. Then I found two more rocks in my yard. How many rocks did I find in all?"
  • Follow the steps to solve the problem. Model the problem using the rocks, and then write the number sentence, 3 + 2 = 5.
  • Review the problem with the class by saying, "Three and two is five. Three plus two equals five. I found five rocks all together."
(10 minutes)
  • Distribute personal whiteboards, dry erase markers and erasers to students. Tell them they will practice using the plus sign to solve math problems.
  • Tell students the following story problem: "I found two shells. Then I found two more shells. How many shells did I find in all?"
  • Show students two shells, and have them copy you and write the number two on their whiteboards. Review the steps to write the number two if needed.
  • Review that since you found more shells, you need to use addition. Verbalize the steps to write the plus sign (vertical line down and horizontal line across), and have students follow along and copy a plus sign on their whiteboards.
  • Continue the equation, writing another number two after the plus sign. Say, "Now I want to know how many shells two plus two is."
  • Have students gesture with arms parallel to the ground and repeat, "equal sign." Explain that the equal sign means, "is the same as."
  • Finish the equation, 2 + 2 = 4, and read aloud, "Two and two is four. Another way to say this is two plus two equals four."
  • Continue with a few more examples, as you guide students to write number sentences on their whiteboards.
(10 minutes)
  • Distribute the Counting Bird Addition worksheet. Tell students to follow along as you model solving the first problem. Think aloud, "First, count the total number of birds. Next, write the number sentence. Last, read the number sentence: One plus one equals two."
  • Circulate and ask students to describe the steps to solve the problems. Prompt them to point to the parts of the number sentence as they read it aloud to you.
  • Students who finish early can draw and write their own number sentences on the back of the worksheet.


  • If students do not know number names in English, allow them to add using their home language (L1).
  • Work to complete the worksheet in a teacher-led small group.


  • Encourage students to verbalize the steps to write and solve addition problems.
  • Allow students to create and act out their own story problems.
  • Assess the language objective by prompting students to explain their thinking as you circulate. Ask students questions such as "What is the next step?" and "How did you solve the problem?"
  • If students get the incorrect answer, ask them to explain their thinking. Encourage the self-correction of errors rather than rushing to provide the correct answer.
(2 minutes)
  • Review that addition means finding the total number of two or more parts.
  • Project the Counting Bird Addition worksheet on the document camera and read the equations chorally as a class, pointing below each one as you read it.

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