Farmer Fred's Fenceposts-The Plus and Equal Sign

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Students will be able to use plus and equal signs to express an addition equation.

Big Idea

Although understanding the plus and equal sign are not a kindergarten Common Core standard, exposure to the concept provides a foundation for future learning and preparation for standardized testing.


10 minutes

For this part of the lesson, you will need a copy of Farmer Fred Puts It Altogether.  This story was used in a previous lesson, but I believe it is important to reread stories and it also does a nice job of setting the stage for this lesson. 

I print the book on a colored printer and bind the book with a comb binder.  You can also use book rings or a stapler to bind the book.  I laminate the pages for durability and to allow students to write on the pages, making the book interactive.  You will also need an erasable marker.

I gather the students at my big chair and show them the book.  I tell the students, Today we are going to reread Farmer Fred Puts It All Together.  If you remember, Farmer Fred taught us about joining groups.  As we read this book, I want you to think about what we need to do to join groups.

We begin reading the book.  Students are invited up to count the number of animals when the groups are joined and record the answers in the book.  The students check their work each time by counting aloud with me.  When we are done reading the story, we move over to the SMARTBoard to continue our instruction. 

Direct Instruction

15 minutes

For this portion of the lesson, I use the Adding with Plus and Equal Signs SMARTBoard file.  If you have a different type of interactive whiteboard, you can still use this lesson by opening the file in Smart Notebook Express.  There is also a PDF you can use to recreate this part of the lesson.

I gather my students in front of the SMARTBoard.  I have cards with each student's name on.  These cards are used for selecting who will come up to the SMARTBoard.

I open the first slide (SMARTBoard Slide 1) with the lesson objective written in "student friendly" terms.  There is a content objective and a language objective to help focus on vocabulary expansion for my English Learners (ELs) to be congruent with SIOP instructional techniques. I read these objectives aloud for my students. 


Content Objective

I can add two groups together using a plus and equal sign. 

Language Objective

I can tell a friend how to read a number sentence that has a plus and equal sign.


Slide 2:  You have done a great job joining groups together.  When we join two groups together, we give it a special name.  We call it adding.  

Slide 3:  Instead of saying the word "and”, we can use a plus sign.  A plus sign looks like two fence posts that are crossed.  Whenever I see this sign, I will join the groups to find out how many "altogether" or "in all"

Slide 4:  What do we do here?  I discuss with the students that we count how many in all or altogether.  

Slide 5:   To help us separate our answer from the two groups we joined, we need two more fence posts.  This time, they look a little different.  One is above the other.  This is called and equal sign. 

Slide 6:  You know what equal means, right?  That means the groups are the same.  If we put an equal sign at the end of our sentence and solve the problem, we know what is on both sides of the equal sign is exactly the same.   

Slide 7:  We would say this sentence as 3 plus 3 equals 6. 

Slide 8:   Let's join some more groups.  How many in all?  We need to write in our plus and equal sign!  I invite student to come up to the Smartboard and write how many in each group.  I then invite a student to come up and write the plus sign.  Another student comes up and writes the equal sign.  A final student comes up and writes the sum. 

Slides 9-11:  Continue as above. 

Slide 12:   It's is now Turn and Talk Time.  During Turn and Talk, my students get the opportunity to practice their academic language.  This is especially important for my English Language Learners, but all of my students benefit from this practice.

Every student has a Turn and Talk partner.  I ask them to hold hands with their partner and raise their hands in the air so I know that everyone is partnered up. 

I say to the students, Say this addition sentence for your partner.  The students turn to their partner and begin to talk.  I hear some students using the word “and”.  I remind them that we do not use the word and that there is another word we use instead. 

When the students are done talking, I call on a student to say the addition sentence aloud for the class.  After the student says the sentence aloud, I have the entire class repeat the sentence to build on my students’ academic language.  

We now return to our seats for guided practice.

Guided Practice

10 minutes

For this portion of the lesson, you will need the Farm Animal Masks included as a PDF with this lesson.  You will need one mask per student.  Print a variety of numbers of each animal ( 1 bunny, 4 cows, 3 pigs, etc). I print the masks on a colored printer and laminate for durability.  I trim around the outside of the masks and then tape a tongue depressor to the back of each mask. 

I tell the students that we are going to practice adding.  I pass out the masks to the students and then I call different combinations of animals in front of the class.  I tell the class, I want the cows and the horses to go to the front of the class.  The cows and horses go to the front of the class,  The cows gather on one side and horses on the other. 

I ask the class, How many cows are there?  and then How many horses are there?  Then I say to the class, How many in all?  I call on a student to share the answer.  After the student gives the answer, I say, Let’s make this an addition sentence.  I then call on a student to express the problem as an addition sentence  (4 + 3 = 7).  The entire class then repeats the addition sentence. 

We do several more problems until everyone has had a chance to go in front of the class.  I make sure the entire class repeats the sentence.  This continues to build the students' academic language.

Independent Practice and Informal Assessment

15 minutes

For the independent practice portion of this lesson, you will need the Farm Animal Joining Groups.  This activity was used in previous lessons in this unit.  Print the cards on a colored printer.  Cut them apart and tape the cards around your classroom.  There is a different Recording Sheet that will be used with the activity.

I distribute the recording sheet to the students and say to them, You remember our farm animal hunt that we did with joining groups.  We are going to be doing that same hunt again.  You will be finding the cards with the farm animals.  On each card there will be two groups of animals.  On the matching letter on your recording sheet, write down how many animals there are in each group.  Then join the two groups by writing in your plus sign and equal sign.  Count and find out how many animals there are in all to solve the problem.  Work until you have found all the cards.  When you are done, I will check your sheet. 

As I give these instructions, I model the actions and make frequent stops and checks for understanding. After I release students to begin, I keep close to those students who might have difficulty with following these steps so that I can gently prompt them (rather than direct them) to recall "what's next".

I circulate around the room and observe the students as they are working.  See Video  I watch for any mistakes the students might make and correct them.  When the students are done, I check their work before they put it in their mailbox, having them read one or two of the addition equations aloud for me.