Lesson plan

How Many Presents: A Lesson in Addition

Engage your students in a fun, hands-on lesson about addition using a well loved topic—birthday presents!
Need extra help for EL students? Try the Counting Fishermen pre-lesson.
EL Adjustments
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Need extra help for EL students? Try the Counting Fishermen pre-lesson.

Students will be able to solve addition problems using numbers 0-5.

The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
EL adjustments
(2 minutes)
  • Gather students together.
  • Say, "Who knows what a birthday is?" Allow for a few students to provide responses or ideas. "Right! A birthday is the day you were born. Today we are going to be solving a problem about birthday presents and I need your help."
(5 minutes)
  • Display 1 of the red presents and 2 of the yellow presents on the board. Say, "I gave my Grandma 1 present (point to the red) and my sister gave my Grandma 2 presents (point to the yellow). How many presents did my Grandma get in all?"
  • Model how to solve the equation by counting the presents one at a time (pointing as you count).
  • Say, "All mathematicians check their work, so I'll solve the problem again to see if I get the same answer."
  • Model counting out two sets of math counters (1 and 3) and then counting them together, use a number line as support.
  • Explain that you just solved an addition problem. Tell students that addition means putting things together to find out how many you have in all.
  • Draw a plus (+) sign and explain that we use special math symbols like the plus sign and equals (=) sign to help us solve the problem.
(10 minutes)
  • Display 3 of the red presents and 2 of the yellow presents on the board. Point to the visuals and say, "On my last birthday I was given presents from my sister and my brother. My sister gave me 3 red presents and my brother gave me 2 yellow presents. How many presents did I get in all?"
  • Have students turn and talk to share their ideas with a friend.
  • Pass out blank paper and math counters and have students work in pairs to solve the problem.
  • Gather the class back together and ask for volunteers to share their work with the group. As needed, pre-pick pairs to share and emphasize problem solving strategies (drawing pictures, using counters, using the number line, counting with fingers, etc.).
(10 minutes)
  • Show students the Addition with Pictures: Leaves worksheet and review the instructions.
  • Have students turn and talk to restate the instructions in their own words to a partner.
  • Pass out the worksheet for students to complete independently.


  • Review numbers to 5 using songs and games.
  • Provide students with individual number lines to use when solving equations.
  • Work within a smaller, targeted group to practice one to one correspondence counting.


  • Introduce students to addition equations in the standard format (5 + 2 = 7) and have them practice solving problems using numbers rather than pictures.
  • Have students work with addition equations involving numbers to 10.
  • Challenge students to solve problems using a wider variety of strategies (e.g., using a number line, math counters, drawing pictures, etc.).
(5 minutes)
  • As students are working with peers and engaged in conversations throughout the lesson, take note of their process and any areas of confusion. Are students able to count using one-to-one correspondence? Can students keep track of the two parts of the equation? Are they able to read the equation correctly in order to solve it?
  • Collect student work samples and check for accuracy at the end of the lesson.
(3 minutes)
  • Gather the class back together and ask students to share with a partner how they solved their problem.
  • Invite 2–3 students to share out strategies (counting on fingers, drawing, using the number line, etc.).
  • Close by saying, "There are many different strategies or ways to solve a problem, you are all becoming such amazing mathematicians!"

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