Put together or Take Away?

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SWBAT distinguish between joining and separating problems.

Big Idea

Idea: Students learn the basics of 1.OA.1 by mixing addition and subtraction word problems from day 1. The focus question is: Put together or take away?

Setting Up the Learning

5 minutes

CCSS Context:

This lesson is aligned to both K.OA.A.2 and 1.OA.A.1, in that it focuses on solving addition and subtraction story problems. It is also aligned to MP1-Make sense of and persevere in solving problems-because students are having to retell the problem, visualize the action and then they use a hand motion to represent the action of the problem. 


Yesterday we visualized problems and decided what was happening in the story. Today we are going to decide if we are putting groups together or taking away. 


Today we are going to talk about how we figure out if we put groups together or take some away. We have to pay attention to what is happening in problems in math so we can figure out how the problems are solved.


Your thinking job today is: How can we figure out if this is a put together or take apart problem?

Opening Discussion

10 minutes

I have 2 story problems here. Our job is to figure out if we are putting two groups together (I'll model a put together hand motion) or taking away (model hand motion).

See Put Together Take Away video of put together/take away motions!

Present Problem: Once there was a hungry monkey. He picked up 2 bananas. Then he picked up 4 more bananas. How many bananas did he pick up?

  • Model reading the problem 2 times as a good habit of problem solving (Make sense of problems and persevere through solving them, CCSS.MP.1)
  • Let’s think about what happened in this problem. Who can tell me the story again?
  • Now think about the story in your brain. Did the monkey have more or less bananas at the end? How are you sure?
  • So now we have to decide-did we put two groups of bananas together or did we take some bananas away?

Right! We put two groups of bananas together. I have some yellow cubes we can use to act this out.

  • Student models using the cubes as bananas. When students are just learning to represent objects in a story problem, color can be a great scaffold. Using yellow cubes helps a student who struggles to represent pretend that those cubes are actual bananas!

Strategy Share

7 minutes

This section follows the same routine of the Opening Discussion but focuses more on partners working together to sort this problem.

Present problem: Once there was a hungry monkey. He had 6 bananas. Then he ate 2 of them. How many bananas does the monkey have now?

Partner talk questions: (I’ll share out an exemplar answer each time)

  • Retell what happened to this hungry monkey!
  • Now think about the story in your brain: Did the monkey have more or less bananas at the end? How are you sure?
  • Did the monkey put two groups of bananas together or did he take some away?

We will confirm that it is a take away problem by acting out the problem with yellow cubes.

Independent Practice

12 minutes

On each of the problems, students circle "put together" or "take away". Here are the differentiated worksheets: Put Together Take Away.docx, and here is how they are differentiated:

Group A: Intervention

These students will solve 2 problems with numbers under 7. Students need help with reading, so if possible I’ll keep those kids together to read and plan the problems together.

Group B: Right on Track

I’ll push these students on strategy type, keeping the numbers low (under 10). I want these students thinking about how they could use counting on with their cubes.

Group C: Extension

I’ll push these students on strategy type also by giving them a constraint-I’ll tell them I want them to try to solve the problem without fingers or cubes.

See this Take Away Student Work for an example of one way student represented solving the problem. She shows an incredibly clear strategy-this is an exemplar when it comes to representation for a beginning of the year first grader!


8 minutes

I'll close this lesson by bringing out the puppet I used to act out one of the stories we solved today!

After we do this, we will get some wiggles out by doing the Just Dance Kids video for 5 Little Monkeys. In the beginning of the year in first grade, students need lots of brain breaks as they build their stamina. These videos are great because they are short and teach kids a new dance!