Lesson plan

Musical Math

Students love to explore instruments! Add some method to the madness by having students count, add, and subtract when working together to make music.
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Students will be able to solve addition and subtraction problems while identifying common musical instruments.

(10 minutes)
  • Put a big pile of musical instruments in the middle of the classroom. Make sure there are multiple numbers of the same instrument.
  • Have students work together to sort instruments into smaller piles of like instruments (e.g. drums with drums and cymbals with cymbals).
(15 minutes)
  • Have students identify each type of instrument that they sorted. Ask students to describe how to play the instrument and what the instrument sounds like. If possible, have a student demonstrate how to play each instrument.
  • Come up with a simple addition problem based on the sorted instruments. For example, how many recorders and flutes are there in all?
  • Call on students to play all the instruments in your addition problem. As students hold the instruments, count up how many there are in all. Write the addition problem you solved on the board. Then ask students to play the instruments all together!
(10 minutes)
  • Have students come up with their own addition and subtraction problems based on the sorted instruments (prompt students to use subtraction problems as well as addition problems).
  • Repeat the same process from the teacher modeling section. Have students come up to model the problems and play the instruments.
(15 minutes)
  • Have students work independently to complete the Music Math worksheet.
  • As students work, circulate around the room to see how they are solving the subtraction problems.

Support: Have students use manipulatives to solve the problems.

Enrichment: Have students write their own musical math word problems.

(5 minutes)
  • Assess how students are solving the subtraction problems.
(5 minutes)
  • Call on students to read or come up with their own musical math problems.

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