Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Jeans Pocket Recycling = Add/Subtract Game for Any Target Number

I recently did this activity (revived from an old post) with a handful of first graders who needed a little extra support in adding/subtracting within 5. Across the board, they all said, "This is FUN!" With that endorsement, here's an idea for adding/subtracting with any target number. All you need is an old jeans pocket and some change.

I cut a pocket from a pair of jeans in the ragbag. We used the pocket for lessons at a variety of levels...

Add/Subtract Within 5:

I showed my 4yo five coins. I told him that I would hide some of the coins in the pocket while he shut his eyes. When he opened them I asked, "How many pennies are in my pocket?" While I was thrilled that he got the first one right, I quickly realized that it may have been a fluke. He needed more support to understand how many coins were hiding.

I made a little 5-frame. We put all five pennies in the frame and counted them. After I hid some, he used the 5-frame to help him figure out how many coins were missing.

Once understanding is more solid, continue without the five frame.

Add/Subtract Within 100:

I told my 7yo that his coins totaled $1. I put some of the money outside and some of the money inside the pocket. He counted the coins he could see and then told me how much money he thought he'd find inside the pocket. He then emptied the pocket and counted the change. I'll upgrade to dollar bills as he needs a bit more of a challenge.


  1. I write reviews and adaptations of learning technology for children with autism and the tactile enjoyment of this activity by children learning is not something that can easily be duplicated by a $500 iPad. Thank you for the reminder and for sharing this.

    Glenn Laniewski
    Latest Post:
    Math teachers, start baking your Pi Day pies early


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