Lesson Plan: Addition and Subtraction with Pictures

Teacher and students in classroom
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Students will create and solve addition and subtraction word problems using pictures of objects.

Class: Kindergarten

Duration: One class period, 45 minutes in length


  • Holiday stickers or holiday pictures cut out
  • Paper
  • Glue
  • Chart paper
  • Large pieces of white construction paper

Key Vocabulary: add, subtract, together, take away

Objectives: Students will create and solve addition and subtraction word problems using pictures of objects.

Standards Met: K.OA.2: Solve addition and subtraction word problems, and add and subtract within 10, e.g. by using objects or drawings to represent the problem.

Lesson Introduction

Before beginning this lesson, you’ll want to decide whether or not you wish to focus on the holiday season. This lesson can easily be done with other objects, so simply replace the references to Christmas and New Years with other dates or objects.

Begin by asking students what they are excited about, with the holiday season approaching. Write a long list of their responses on the board. These can later be used for simple story starters during a class writing activity.

Step-by-Step Procedure

  1. Use one of the items from a student’s brainstormed list to begin modeling the addition and subtraction problems. For example, drinking hot chocolate may be on your list. On chart paper, write down, “I have one cup of hot chocolate. My cousin has one cup of hot chocolate. How many cups of hot chocolate do we have altogether?” Draw one cup on the chart paper, write the addition sign, and then a picture of another cup. Ask students to tell you how many cups there are altogether. Count with them if necessary, “One, two cups of hot chocolate.” Write down “= 2 cups” next to your pictures.
  2. Move on to another object. If decorating the tree is on the students’ list, turn that into a problem and record it on another piece of chart paper. “I put two ornaments on the tree. My mom put three ornaments on the tree. How many ornaments did we put on the tree together?” Draw a picture of two simple ball ornaments + three ornaments = , then count with students, “One, two, three, four, five ornaments on the tree.” Record “= 5 ornaments”.
  3. Continue modeling with a few more items that students have on the brainstormed list.
  4. When you think that most of them are ready to draw or use stickers to represent their own items, give them a story problem to record and solve. “I wrapped three presents for my family. My sister wrapped two presents. How many did we wrap altogether?”
  5. Ask students to record the problem you created in Step 4. If they have stickers to represent the presents, they can put down three presents, the + sign, and then two more presents. If you don’t have stickers, they can simply draw squares for the presents. Walk around the class as they draw these problems and help students who are missing the addition sign, equal sign, or who aren’t sure where to start.
  6. Do one or two more examples of addition with the students recording the problem and answer on their construction paper before moving on to subtraction.
  7. Model the subtraction on your chart paper. "I put six marshmallows in my hot chocolate." Draw a cup with six marshmallows. "I ate two of the marshmallows." Cross two of the marshmallows out. "How many do I have left?" Count with them, “One, two, three, four marshmallows are left.” Draw the cup with four marshmallows and write a number 4 after the equal sign. Repeat this process with a similar example such as: "I have five presents under the tree. I opened one. How many do I have left?"
  8. As you move through the subtraction problems, begin to have students record the problems and answers with their stickers or drawings, as you write them on chart paper.
  9. If you think students are ready, put them into pairs or small groups at the end of the class period and have them write and draw their own problem. Have the pairs come up and share their problems with the rest of the class.
  10. Post the students' pictures on the board.

Homework/Assessment: No homework for this lesson.

Evaluation: As students are working, walk around the classroom and discuss their work with them. Take notes, work with small groups, and pull aside students who need help.

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Your Citation
Jones, Alexis. "Lesson Plan: Addition and Subtraction with Pictures." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, thoughtco.com/addition-and-subtraction-lesson-plan-p2-2312847. Jones, Alexis. (2023, April 5). Lesson Plan: Addition and Subtraction with Pictures. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/addition-and-subtraction-lesson-plan-p2-2312847 Jones, Alexis. "Lesson Plan: Addition and Subtraction with Pictures." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/addition-and-subtraction-lesson-plan-p2-2312847 (accessed June 8, 2023).