What is the action of the problem?

9 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT retell a story problem in order to help them visualize the action.

Big Idea

Students work towards CCSS.MP1: Make sense of and persevere through problems with this introductory lesson. Students learn to visualize what is happening in the problem.

Setting Up the Learning

5 minutes

CCSS Context:

In first grade, the CCSS standards say that students should be able to solve a variety of problem types (1.OA.1). In order to do this, students need to be able to make sense of what is happening in the problem (MP1). Students use visualizing to help them make sense of problems in this early first grade lesson.


Last week we learned about the different things we need to do to communicate how we think about problems.  Today we are going to practice visualizing what is happening in the story problem. Visualize means to think about what is happening in the problem in our brains. 


When we visualize a problem, it helps us play it like a movie! We can see each part and what is happening, and that makes it easier to solve the problem.


Your thinking job today is to retell what happens in the story problem and picture it in your brain.

Opening Discussion

10 minutes

I’m going to tell a story and I want you to try to see it in your minds as I tell it. I really hype this up with kids-"Close your eyes and imagine..." They look adorable when they do this!

Story Problem: The other day I went to the grocery store because I needed to pick up some fruit. I walked around the produce section where the fruits and vegetables are until I found the bananas.

STOP! What has Ms. __ been doing in this story so far? Who can retell what is happening? 

I picked up one bunch of bananas. I counted them. There were 5 bananas in that bunch.

STOP! Let’s say what has happened in this story so far.

Now I decided I need some more bananas. I picked up 3 more bananas.

Partner talk: What happened in this story? Tell your partner!

I’ll restate: So first I had 5 bananas. At the end, did I have more or less than 5 bananas? Did I get more bananas or did I lose the bananas? (Retell story if necessary)

Student Work Time and Share

17 minutes

I'll have students work independently to solve the problem for 7-8 minutes.

After students work, I’ll choose 2 strategies to share. I’ll choose a counting on strategy if at all possible, but also choose a cubes strategy.)

Guiding Questions during strategy share:

  • What did this person do to show the first 5 bananas?
  • What did they do to show the 3 more bananas I got from the store?
  • How do you know how many bananas I had?
  • Let’s retell the story again. This time let’s use their strategy picture to help.

Independent Practice

10 minutes

Here are the differentiated Banana Problems.docx that students in each of your groups can work on.

Group A: Intervention

These students will practice visualizing problems with numbers under 6. 

Group B: On Track

These students will practice visualizing story problems with numbers under 10.

Group C: Extension

I’ll push this group on strategy type-are they using a counting strategy yet? If not, I’ll encourage them to try the problem without cubes or fingers. However, they will also have story problems with numbers under 10.

  • See how one student showed how to Represent Finger Strategies. She showed exactly what she did with her fingers, though my push for her is to add numbers into her picture to show how she counted.This would help me know if she counted all or counted on.
  • See how one student showed she used Counting On. You can look at her strategy picture and understand exactly what she did! The push for this student is to explain this in words. Early in first grade, I expect that kids may be more expressive in strategy pictures then in words, particularly for students who struggle more in reading.


8 minutes

We practiced visualizing a problem today. Turn and talk to your partner about what happened in one of your story problems.

Get those wiggles out after the lesson! Do the Banana Cheer from the Learning Station.