Snowman Vertical Addition

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SWBAT create and solve vertical addition problems.

Big Idea

This activity provides practice with vertical addition, while utilizing a fun spinner and marshmallow counters.

Attention Grabber/Introduction

5 minutes

“Hey friends!” I begin.  “We are going to need magic soap [hand sanitizer] before math today… Do you know what that means?”

I pick a friend who appears to be thinking hard.  “Umm… our hands aren’t clean?”

“They could be,” I say, “But we have to be sureWhy do we have to be sure?!” I press on.

One of my buddies lights up, so I ask her (to get a quick answer).  “We are going to eat something for our math!” she declares to a room full of smiles.

Oh yes, girls and boys!  We are practicing vertical addition—that up and down addition—what’s it called again?” I ask.

“Vertical!” students proclaim.

“Oh yes, vertical addition!  Up and down addition!” I reiterate. 

“Well, to help you count, you need some counters.  I got you some little counters that you might like, to help you add.  I will call them snowballs, but you might call them…”

“Marshmallows!” students declare as I show a handful of mini marshmallow.

“Excellent,” I continue, “So we have marshmallows to use to help add if you want to use them.  I don’t always use counters if I don’t feel like I need them.  You can still snack on your marshmallows at the end of math even if you don’t use your marshmallows.”

“Are you ready to see what we will be doing?!” I ask.

Guided Practice

5 minutes

I show the vertical addition recording page, and I also show the spinner I created for the lesson. 

“Fun!” a kiddo blurts.  What a happy blurt!

“You’ve worked with so many number cubes lately,” I explain, “I thought it would be fun to mix it up with a spinner!” I announce.

“We will spin the spinner, and write the number… where?” I ask.

I call on a kiddo who states, “Top?”

 “Yes!” We go top to bottom, left to right, so yes!  We will put our first number, our first addend, on the top!”

“Next, we spin again!“ I continue.

“To get the answer… do we spin for that?” some kids seem to be ready to nod for this option.  Uh oh!  Thankfully, other friends say, “Add them up!” or “Count your marshmallows!”  Whew!  That was a close one! I think to myself.

I quickly distribute marshmallows, and I have my helper distribute recording sheets, and we practice a few problems together.  We go over all the steps, and I select kiddos who might be confused to answer guiding questions to help us get the “process” understood.

Independent Practice

25 minutes

After our practice round, I distribute a spinner for each “pair” of students to share.  We have gone over using the marshmallows—for counters, not snacks—and the kids are incredibly excited to get busy building and solving addition problems.

I circulate throughout the room as students work, making sure to hover when needed.  I ask clarifying questions to help students get accurate answers and understand the process, but the lesson is truly about busy, hardworking kids doing their own great addition.


5 minutes

After a 2-minute warning, spinners are collected and kiddos get to snack on marshmallows as we go over the lesson.  The students love the marshmallows, and the kids let me know that the spinners make math seem like we are playing  a game.

I ask about the vertical—up & down—format of the addition problems, and kids unanimously declare, “It’s easy!”

I ask about their hardest problems to solve.  The students happily oblige and share their work, and before I know it, we are late again!  Oh, math is so much fun!