Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Let Me Count the Ways

Kaye Maddox
Bay District Schools


What are the possible combinations? Students combine given items to make as many different sets as possible


The student determines the number of possible combinations of given items and displays them in an organized way (for example, lists all possible combinations of three shirts and two pairs of shorts).


-Pictures to be used for the different combinations (see associated file)
-Plastic bags with small pictures, one per student
-Checklist (see associated files)


1. Prepare large pictures (see associated file) for use on the board.
2. Prepare set of small pictures (see associated file) for each child and place in small plastic bag.
3. Download, print and duplicate the checklist from the associated files.


1. Have several pictures showing various shorts and shirts. Place these on the magnetic board. Ask students if they ever get tired of wearing the same outfits. Tell students that you will be combining these shorts and shirts to make as many different outfits as possible.

2. Choose two shirts and three pairs of shorts. Model, showing different combinations to make using just these choices. Write down the choices on a chart or the board. Make sure you donít do the same combination twice.

3. Ask the students to look at the list and tell how many different combinations were made.

4. Next, choose two shirts and two shorts. Have students guess how many combinations can be made from the new selections. After guesses have been made, have students assist you in making the combinations. Write the total number of combinations by the display. Do this several times with the students so they can practice making the correct number of combinations.

5. Give the students the bags of pictures (see teacher preparations) and let them use their pictures to make combinations using different objects. Students should be working independently.

6. Walk among the students and observe their ability to make all the combinations mathematically possible. The checklist is marked to denote students who are successful and those needing further assistance. Individual formative feedback is given by the teacher.

7. After students have finished making their combinations, ask individuals to tell a combination. Place the combinations shared on the board. Then give formative feedback to confirm that the correct number of combinations has been made, or to guide students to determine additional combinations until all mathematically possible combinations have been made.


Observe students as they combine pictures of clothing to make different combinations. The students will have pictures of various articles of clothing on their desks where they will combine them to make the different outfits. Students will make as many different combinations as mathematically possible. A teacher checklist of criteria will be used to assess student knowledge of how to make the different combinations. Students who are not able to show all of the possible combinations will require additional individual help from the teacher.

Attached Files

Graphics of hats     File Extension: pdf

Graphics of shirts     File Extension: pdf

Graphics of shorts     File Extension: pdf

Graphics of shoes     File Extension: pdf

Formative Assessment Checklist     File Extension: pdf

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