One Less!

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SWBAT use a variety of strategies to identify numbers that are one less.

Big Idea

Students learn the meaning of "1 less" in this game where they practice finding one less with cubes, number lines and counting!

Setting Up the Learning

5 minutes

This is the first time students are encountering more and less/fewer. I started with less/fewer because it tends to be the more difficult! 


We have been working on reading and writing all of our numbers. We learned lots of strategies last week to help us remember how to write numbers!


When we do math in real life, we often have problems where we take away just 1 of something. Learning what numbers are 1 less will help us put a number line in our brain and help us solve these kind of problems easier.


Objective : Your thinking job today is: What does “one less” mean?


Opening Discussion

15 minutes

The words less and fewer are very important in math. They both mean you take some away. For example, if I have 4 cookies, and Ms. Anderson has 5 cookies, I have fewer. Less and fewer always means smaller. (I'll introduce a hand motion here for these terms! See video for more info on hand motions!)



Practice the meaning of 1 less: 

  • When we figure out a number that is one less, we are taking away 1. One less means take away 1.
  • Let’s practice with easy-peesy numbers. Show 5 fingers. I want to know what is one less than 5. Show me one less. What is one less than 5?
  • Practice with the number 10 also.


Model meaning on a number line:

  • Let’s show what you just did on the number line. We had 10. When we take away 1, what did we have left? 9!
  • Where should I move my finger to show one less? (Push: Do I move forwards or backwards?)


Present problem: I have 15 crackers. I dropped one, so now I have 1 less than 15. How many crackers do I have now?




Student Work Time and Share

20 minutes

Student Work Time:

While students work, I'll look for different ways students solve, particularly a student who solves with cubes and one that solves with a number line. This is important because CCSS emphasizes less teacher modeling, more student thinking! I don't model how to figure this out because I need to see how students solve first so we can share out the different strategies. 

This is also aligned to MP5, Use appropriate tools strategically. Students have to choose their own tool and explain how to use it. When we move into the strategy share, they have to be able to articulate how others used tools to solve the problem.

Student Share:

I'll share a cubes strategy and a number line strategy, asking guiding questions throughout.

  • How are these strategies the same? How are they different?
  • How did we show that we took away 1 on the number line?

See picture of strategy share chart!!


Game Practice:

I'll model the game a few times and then practice the game whole group with students.

Game Rules:

1. Pull a number card.

2. Build the number with cubes on your gameboard.

3. Write down your number.

4. Show one less!

5. Start over!


Independent Practice

15 minutes

Students play the game, but possibly with different numbers based on their level of understanding. Differentiating this game is very important because students who struggle with basic counting will get quickly overwhelmed by numbers to 40. Keep those kids at lower numbers for now so they learn the concept.

Group A: Intervention

Students play the game with numbers under 20. Students use cubes to practice concretely with one less.

Group B: Right On Track

Students play the game with numbers under 40. Students use cubes to practice concretely with one less if needed, but then model what they did on the number line.

Group C: Extension

Students play the game with numbers under 40. Students do not have cube support, but do have the number line.

*See attached document for recording sheet and game cards.


5 minutes

Today our thinking job was: What does “one less” mean?

We saw that one less means to take away 1, it means our number is getting smaller by 1.

To set students up to use the number line only in the next day's lesson, we will do a quick number line and cube connection activity:

"Let’s start at 20, and do one less until we get to 0! (T does a quick cube activity, while another child points to the numbers on the number line. Start at 20, what’s one less? 19! Now we have 19, what’s one less? 18!)"