Lesson plan

Mr. Alligator Can't Catch Me!

Students can use their play skills to demonstrate subtraction. In this lesson, your students will use a familiar rhyme to practice subtraction.
Need extra help for EL students? Try the All About Subtraction pre-lesson.
EL Adjustments
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Need extra help for EL students? Try the All About Subtraction pre-lesson.

Students will be able to represent subtraction by manipulating up to 5 objects.

The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
EL adjustments
(5 minutes)
  • Tell your students that today they will be practicing subtraction, or taking away.
  • Show students the video Five Little Monkeys Swinging from a Tree.
  • Encourage students to sing along and use their fingers to practice along with the video.
(5 minutes)
  • Gather students in your group area and demonstrate the concept of taking away with counting manipulatives, such as 5 brown blocks and a bigger green block to show the one that you are taking away.
(10 minutes)
  • Assign one student to be the alligator and five students to be the monkeys.
  • Write the corresponding subtraction problem on the board to demonstrate how to represent taking away.
(5 minutes)
  • Have students work on the 5 Little Monkeys worksheet independently.


  • Give your students manipulatives to practice subtraction. Have them count out the manipulatives one by one, using them as they complete the worksheet.


  • Challenge your students to use numbers higher than 5 to practice subtraction.
(5 minutes)
  • Tell your students that they will have to "clean the room". Have them complete the Clean the Room worksheet.
(10 minutes)
  • Watch the video again while practicing subtraction with small snacks such as fish crackers or fruit snacks.
  • Discuss as a class how eating the snacks is similar to practicing subtraction.

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