Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Five Little Monkeys

Lore Davis
Alachua County Schools


The students act out subtraction situations.


The student understands and explains the effects of addition and subtraction on whole numbers, including the inverse (opposite) relationship of the two operations.


-[Five Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed,] Christelow, Eileen, Scholastic Inc., NY, 1991. ISBN 0 590 13520 1
-One bowl of monkey manipulatives to be used for assessment


1. Get the book [Five Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed]. Christelow, Eileen,Scholastic Inc. NY. 1991. ISBN 0 590 13520 1
2. Preview the book.
3. Have a bowl of five monkey manipulatives available for assessment purposes.


Note: This lesson only instructs subtraction.
1. Read the book [Five Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed] by Eileen Christelow. Encourage the students to join in as they catch on to the story pattern.

2. Next, choose five children to come up to the front of the room to act out the story. Start at the beginning. Have five children pretend they are jumping on a bed. Ask students how many children are on the bed. Next, have one of the children jump off the bed. Ask students how many jumped off the bed. Then, ask how many children are left on the bed. Continue this process until all the children have jumped off the bed.

3. Give all of the students an opportunity to participate in acting out a story. They may vary the number of "monkeys" that jump off the bed each time. Ask them the same questions each time to check for understanding. You can tell them they are acting out subtraction stories and that some people call this "take away" stories. Encourage them to use the words "left" and "take away."

4. Review the process of starting with a designated number of monkeys and what happens each time some monkeys jump off the bed (there are less monkeys "left.") Have students verbalize exactly what happened each time as part of this review. Vary the beginning number of monkeys and allow individual students to share answers as the class acts out the story.


Note: This lesson only assesses subtraction.
This is a performance assessment.
Tell students a subtraction story like, "Five monkeys were jumping on a bed. One fell off. How many monkeys are left on the bed?"

Observe students as they use monkey manipulatives to model the story. (Ask: How many monkeys were jumping on the bed?) Provide student with monkey manipulatives and watch as he/she counts out the correct number.
- Ask: How many monkeys fell off? Watch as student takes away that number.
- Ask: What did you just do? Why?
- Ask: How many monkeys are left jumping on the bed? Listen for the correct answer or an answer that indicates that it is less that the number that the student began with.

Student reponses could be:
- Student says that five monkeys were jumping on the bed.
- Student says that one monkey fell off so it had to be take away.
- Student says that four monkeys are left jumping on the bed.

Students may need multiple practice sessions to grasp the concept of subtraction.


Students can use math manipulatives such as teddy bear counters, dinosaur counters, zoo animal counters or stuffed animals to act out the stories.

This activity can be done with small groups of children instead of during large group instruction to be able to spend more one-on-one time with children who need more repetition and practice with concepts.
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