Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Play Dough Number Sentences

Deborah Ford
Santa Rosa District Schools


Students receive a can of play dough and form it into numbers to make addition problems. The students also learn the proper format for an addition sentence from left to right.


The student demonstrates knowledge of the meaning of addition (putting together, increasing) and subtraction (taking away, comparing, finding the difference) using manipulatives, drawings, symbols, and story problems.


-Play dough for each student
-Overhead projector


1. Get overhead projector out and ready.
2. Have enough play dough for all students. (I have a can for each student.)


1. Pass out the play dough to the students.

2. Tell them: Today boys and girls, we will be learning the correct way to form a number sentence.

3. Take a pinch of play dough and make a ball like this (the teacher demonstrates).

4. Roll the ball between your hands to make a long snake (teacher demonstrates).

5. Form the snake into a number 3 (teacher demonstrates and lays the 3 on the overhead projector).

6. Pinch off another piece of the play dough and roll into a snake again. This will be part of your plus sign. Does anyone know what a plus sign looks like? Yes, like a small letter t. So make a small letter t and lay it on the right side of the number 3 like this (teacher demonstrates on the overhead).

7. Pinch off another piece and make the number 2.

8. Ask, where do you think we will place the number 2? (response from students)

9. Ask, would it go here? (Place the 2 on the left side of the 3 so the number sentence reads 23 +. (get response) Then move the 2 above the number 3. (get response) Then lay the 2 on the right side of the + sign so the number sentence reads 3 + 2. (get response)

10. That's right, it goes right here. So far we have three plus two (3 + 2).

11. Ask, what else do you think we need to finish this number sentence? Get response from students until someone gets it right, the equal sign.

12. State, yes the equal sign. How would we form the equal sign? (get response)

13. That's right, it will take 2 little lines. Go ahead and make those. Remember, we are going from left to right so where do we place the equal sign? Very good, after the 2.

14. Say, we need one more thing to finish our number sentence and what would that be?

15. Yes, we need another number after the equal sign. Can I put just any number? How about the number 7? Why not? (get response) That is right, we are adding the numbers together. For example, we put 3 play dough balls in this hand and then we put 2 more. How many play dough balls do we have now? Correct, we have 5 play dough balls altogether.

16. Form your number 5 out of a pinch of play dough.

17. Walk around and check everyone's number sentence. Make sure the number sentence is from left to right and that the numbers and signs are in the right places. Also, this would be a good time to assist the students who still write numbers backwards. Make sure they are facing the right way.

18. Tell the class: Now it is your turn to make up a number sentence. Pick two numbers from 0 to 9, form your numbers, form your signs and place them in the right order going from left to right.

19. Evaluate each student's number sentence and assist them as needed.


The teacher assesses each student's number sentence specifically looking for 2 numbers, a plus sign, an equal sign, and the correct answer all in the proper order.
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