Blogs I Love Math Literature Freebies About Home

Friday, January 10, 2014

Penguin Problem Solving: Addition and Subtraction Facts

Are you required to teach the Common Core standards?   If you teach K-3 you want to be sure you have checked out table 1 of the glossary.  It is buried in the back and can be tricky to find online but it is an important part of what you should be teaching in math about word problems for addition and subtraction.

Here is a peak at it:

I have written about how I address these problem types in grades 2 and 3 with fall themed and winter themed task cards but today I want to give you a peak at how I address these problem types with first graders.

The first grade standard looks like this:
  • CCSS.Math.Content.1.OA.A.1 Use addition and subtraction within 20 to solve word problems involving situations of adding to, taking from, putting together, taking apart, and comparing, with unknowns in all positions, e.g., by using objects, drawings, and equations with a symbol for the unknown number to represent the problem.1
So first graders should be solving all 12 problem types for addition and subtraction within 20.  When I first looked at this table, I was shocked by how many problem types my first graders were not being exposed to.  By being more aware of the types and writing some problem sets that include all the types, I have assured that my first graders are seeing all these problems and they are getting much better at the problem types that used to be really hard for them.  (I know now that they were hard because they had never heard problems like that!)

Since it is winter, we get a bit penguin crazy in first grade so here are some of the problems we are solving:

I made these full page color images.  They take a bit of colored ink to print and but are really a great size for whole group instruction in a first grade classroom.  Mine are printed on cardstock and slipped into a sheet protector.  They were printed over a year ago and used in multiple classrooms twice now and still look brand new.  This problem is available as a FREEBIE in my TPT Store.  Check it out!

Notice I wrote the problem type on the sun for each problem.  This really helps the teachers that use them become more familiar with the different problem types.  It also lets teachers see what types of problems their students struggle with.  This allows them to make sure more problems of that type get asked in the classroom.  This problem is available as a FREEBIE.  Check it out!

My students had a very difficult time with problems like this when they first started.  Ready to see how your students do?  Check out the full set here!  You will get all 12 problem types. 

Compare problems can be tricky for young kids.  This is a great one to act out using students as penguins.  It really helps them see where the groups are the same and where there is more.  This type of problem can always use more practice!
For the next 2 weeks, the full set of penguin problems will be on sale!  Get it today!
How are your students doing with the 12 different problem types for addition and subtraction?  Please respond in the comments below!


  1. I'm getting better at using more of the problem types, but I still have a ways to go.
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

  2. Thanks for sharing these. I've been working on these types of problems, and it's nice to see how someone else does them. Sara

    1. You are welcome! I find some of these problems can sound very unnatural when you first start working on them. It takes time for teachers and students to be comfortable with all the different types.