WANTED: Runaway Number

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SWBAT describe numbers using base ten language, models and number charts.

Big Idea

Students bring together all of their understanding about counting and base ten with this summative activity!

Objective and Hook

5 minutes


We have been working on counting and tens and ones and thinking about how we build different numbers. Today we are going to put all of this learning together to help search for some missing numbers!



We are going to be using big numbers in our story problems one day so we need to understand how to break these numbers into groups. Using those groups will help us as we figure out how to add and subtract these groups later in the year.


Objective :

Your thinking job today is: How can I describe one number with different models and on number charts?


(Lesson Image: Heckle and Jeckle, copyright 20th century Fox.)

Opening Discussion

15 minutes

To get students engaged about today's project, I'll show a Wanted Poster and explain how Wanted posters were used a long time ago by showing a short 1950 cartoon (The Talking Magpies, copyright 20th Century Fox, 1950). 

See link for the cartoon link! 

After the cartoon, "Just like they were looking for Heckle and Jeckle, we are going to put out a search for some missing numbers. These numbers have run away from our hundreds chart! And our number line! We have to put out some clues so we can get these numbers back."

I’m going to remove the number 78 from the hundreds chart prior to the lesson. To get kids excited, I’ll say something like, “One of our numbers has gotten away! We need to make a Wanted Poster. It has to have clues to what the number looks like. Let’s make a Wanted poster for the number that is missing from the hundreds chart."


Guiding Questions:

  • What number is missing? How do you know? I have to black it out on the hundreds chart because it is gone!
  • The question mark is where the number should be. What numbers go around this number on the number line?


I'll have students complete the rest of the Wanted Poster alone or with a partner. As students work, I am making sure they understand how to show this number with tens and ones, as well as with ten frames.  

Wanted Poster attached as pdf.

Creating the Poster and Letter

10 minutes

I’ll lead the students in filling out the rest of the class Wanted Poster after they have worked on the rest of the poster by themselves.

Guiding Questions:

  • How did we show this with tens and ones? How did you know?
  • Did you write 7 tens or 70 tens? Why?
  • How many ones?
  • How would it look like on ten frames? How many ten frames need to be full?
  • Why didn’t you fill up the whole ten frame here? Why did you only put 8 in it?


Common Core stresses the importance of writing across the curriculum, thus students are expected to describe their number in writing.


Now let’s use this information to write a letter to the school about this missing number.

I'll push students to use each part of the Wanted poster in the letter, and explain that this will give everyone enough clues to know what number they are looking for.  (Sample letter)

Dear KIPPsters,

One of the numbers has gone missing from our classroom! We need your help finding it. It has 7 tens and 8 ones. On the number line, it comes right after 77. The number after it is 79. On the hundreds chart is is under the 68. When you build it with base ten blocks, you need 7 tens and 8 ones. Keep your eyes open!


First Grade


Independent Practice

15 minutes

Directions: Students choose a number for their own Wanted Posters. Students will also create a matching letter. All numbers are under 80. 

Because this is a summative activity and assessment, this should be accessible to all students, thus there will not be a lot to differentiate. Students who finish early can do a 2nd Wanted Poster with a different number

Wanted Poster and Letter template are attached.


10 minutes

Today’s thinking job was: How can I describe a number using base ten language and models?

Partner Talk: Share your poster with a partner

We will hang our posters outside in the hallway or in the classroom. I'll give students 5 minutes to take a clipboard around to the different Wanted posters and make a list of the missing numbers in our classroom!

I attached a video of a student at the closing of this lesson! He was explaining to me how he knew that 9 was the runaway number. Not only is he incredibly cute, but he does a great job looking at all of the clues to figure out the runaway number.

Wanted list document is attached!