EL Support Lesson

Number Roll

Engage your students with a fun game that provides practice adding three numbers in any order. Use this scaffolded EL lesson plan alone or with **Adding Three is a Breeze**.
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Adding Three is a Breeze! lesson plan.
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This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Adding Three is a Breeze! lesson plan.

Students will be able to add three whole numbers whose sums are within 20.


Students will be able to explain steps to add three numbers with sequential words using manipulatives, sentence frames and partner support.

(3 minutes)
  • Tell students the story problem, "I have a fish tank at home. I have seven guppies, five Betta fish and three zebra fish. How many fish do I have in all?"
  • Write the numbers 7, 5 and 3 on the board, with a picture of the different types of fish.
  • Ask students to turn and talk to a partner and restate the problem in their own words. Underline the phrase "in all," and ask which math operation is needed to solve the problem (addition).
(10 minutes)
  • Remind students addition is used to find the total of two or more parts. Ask students how many types of fish are in the tank (three). Tell students that these different parts are called addends. Addends are numbers that are added to other numbers.
  • Ask student which math symbol shows addition. (Plus sign.) Tell students to form a plus sign with their arms and repeat, "Plus sign, more."
  • Think aloud, "To show how many fish I have total I need to solve 7 + 5 + 3. Point below the equation as the class reads chorally, "Seven plus five plus three."
  • Ask students to share ideas for ways to solve the problem. For example, draw a picture or count on using a number line.
  • Remind students that ten is a friendly number. Connect the 7 and the 3 with two diagonal lines and write "10" where the lines intersect. Ask students how many more your still need to add (five). Write + 5 next to the 10.
  • Ask students which math symbol shows that the amounts on either side of it are the same. (Equal sign.) Tell students to gesture with both arms parallel and repeat, "Equal sign, is the same as." Add the equal sign to the equation.
  • Explain that the sum tells the whole, or total, number. Finish by writing the sum, 15.
  • Ask students whether adding the three and seven first, and then the five, changed the sum (no), and why not (because the parts are still the same).
  • Distribute personal whiteboard and markers to students.
  • Write the problem 6 + 1 + 6 on the board, and allow students to copy the problem and discuss ways to solve the problem with a partner. Remind students to use sequential words such as first, next, then, and provide the sentence frame, "We could solve the problem by first ____."
  • Allow students to share ways to solve the problem with the class. Point out the 6 + 6 is a doubles fact, which means that both addends are the same. Tell students that doubles means two of something, in this case there are two sixes. Connect the two sixes using diagonal lines, and write "12" below. Then write + 1. Finish by writing the sum, 13.
  • Give students more practice problems as time allows. Guide students to make combinations of ten and use knowledge of doubles facts to add three numbers accurately.
(10 minutes)
  • Project the Number Roll gameboard on the document camera, and begin by reviewing dot patterns on dice. Flash a dot pattern for three seconds and then hide (or project the die face on the document camera). Tell students to show you how many dots they saw by raising that many fingers. Continue until students are able to subitize, or instantly recognize, the amounts.
  • Give each student a copy of the Number Roll gameboard placed inside a sheet protector for reuse. Roll three dice, and instruct students to write the number of dots they see on each die in the spaces on the game board using their dry erase marker.
  • Instruct students to connect the two numbers that they will add first with diagonal lines below. Then, write the sum of those two numbers, plus the third number. Finally, write the sum on the other side of the equal sign. Remind students that there is more than one possible way to add the numbers.
  • Point below the equation as you read aloud chorally.
  • Continue with a few more examples, rolling the dice and recording the equation. Remind students to looks for doubles or combinations of numbers that equal ten that will make adding the three numbers easier.
(12 minutes)
  • Tell students that they will now play Number Roll with a partner. Each partner will roll one die, and the player with the greater, or bigger, number will roll first.
  • Display the steps to play the game:
    1. Partner A rolls 3 dice.
    2. Partner A writes an equation to show the total number of dots.
    3. Partner A reads the equation.
    4. Partner B rolls 3 dice.
    5. Partner B writes an equation to show the total number of dots.
    6. Partner B reads the equation.
    7. The player with the greater number of dots gets 1 point.
    8. The player with the most points wins!
  • Tell students to explain the steps to play the game with their partner.
  • Distribute three dice/partnership, and tell them to keep score on their personal whiteboard.


  • Review and display the number names from 1-18 for reference.
  • Work in a teacher-led small group to play the game.


  • Instruct students to explain the steps to add three parts to find a whole in their own words.
  • Ask students to explain why changing the order of the addends does not change the total number.
  • As students work, check that they are able to write an equation that shows their roll. Listen that they can read the equation.
  • Assess whether students are able to articulate the steps to add three numbers. Ask guiding questions such as, "What do you do next?" and "Why did you decide the add the numbers in that order?"
  • If students do not add the parts correctly, ask them to explain their thinking and justify their answer. Encourage students to self-correct errors rather than rushing to provide the correct answer.
(5 minutes)
  • Ask students to count the total number of points. The player with the greater number is the winner.
  • Reflect on the lesson by asking students to share their opinion with a partner using the sentence frame, "Adding 3 numbers was hard/easy because ____."
  • Choose a few students to share their opinion with the class.
  • Move the game to a center for more practice adding three numbers during small group work.

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