Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Bears in a Box

Sharon Ussery
Hardee County Schools


Students enjoy using counting bears to predict the missing addends. Using these concrete materials they are able to see and understand the concept of missing addends. An added plus is the students cannot wait to see how many bears are really hiding in the box.


The student understands that geometric symbols ((, ?) can be used to represent unknown quantities in expressions, equations, and inequalities.


-Bears or any other object that will fit in a box.
-Some type of a box (shoe box) You can decorate the box if you like.
-Teacher made test (in associated file)
-Marker board
-Marker(s) (any color) or number cards
-Gummy bear for each child
-Thumb tacks or tacky tape if you use number cards


1. You will need at least 10 counting bears or you may cut out bears from a patten.
2. Obtain a show box for the bears to hide in, you may decorate the box if you like.
3. Copy enough of the worksheet for each student.
4. You may also want to prepare samples on the board.


1. Ask the students if they have ever heard of a “Jack in the Box” and have them share what they think a “Jack in the Box” is.

2. Tell them that a “Jack in the Box” can surprise you when he pops up, and that we have a friend of his at school today. (Show a jack in the box if possible.) His name is Bobby Bear. (Bobby Bear(s) are little counting bears that have been put in a shoe box or any type of box.)

3. Tell them that today they are going to play a game with Bobby Bear called Bears in a Box.

4. Explain to them that the game is played by predicting the correct number of bears in the box. The box can be attached to a bulletin board or the students can hold it. Tell students a total of 10 bears are visiting the class today.

5. Place 6 bears on the outside of the box using a tack or sticky tape. Leave 4 inside. Tell the students that we know how many bears there are outside and we can see some of the bears, but the rest of the bears are hiding. Bobby Bear would like us to predict how many are hiding in his box. Model the thought process, then write the equation on the board using a square for the missing number. Read the equation aloud several times and allow students to do so as well.

6. Do the first couple of problems together. Have the students put the number of bears we see in their heads and count up to the number of bears we know we have to see how many bears are hiding. Example: 7 + ? = 10 Students put 7 in their heads and count to 10. They had to count up 3 more, so there are 3 bears hiding in the box. Be sure to write or have students write the equation on the board making a square for the missing number.

7. After the students understand the concept, let each student have a chance to predict how many bears are hiding in the box. Keep doing problems until all have had a chance, including reading and writing the problem with a geometric shape representing the unknown quantity.

8. Give each child a gummy bear from Bobby Bear for doing a great job.


The assessment for this lesson will be the following:
-Teacher observation: During this lesson you should give each student a chance to guess how many bears are in the box, so that you can see if they understand the concept of missing addends.
-Assessment test of skill (associated file.) Please note that you may need to assess students several time using this page before they can show mastery of understanding what the geometric shape should represent. Even if the answers aren't correct, students still show mastery of the concept when they demonstrate that the box is for the missing # of bears that are hiding.

Attached Files

Assessment Test     File Extension: pdf

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