Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Beary Good Problem Solvers

Dena Reid


This activity is a “beary” fun way to practice adding and subtracting operations. Students act out problems using teddy bears, write and solve number sentences.


The student selects the appropriate operation to solve specific problems involving addition and subtraction of whole numbers.

The student writes number sentences associated with addition and subtraction situations.


-Extra teddy bears
-[Practicing The Bear Facts] worksheet for each student
-Index Cards
-Markers or Chalk (for board practice)
-[Teddy Bear Tries] worksheet for each student
-Copy of the answer key for [Teddy Bear Tries]


1. Ask students to bring their favorite teddy bear to school or provide enough bears for the class. If students are asked to bring their teddies, extra bears should be provided for any student who doesn’t have one or forgets to bring one.
2. Gather materials.
3. Make copies of [Practicing The Bear Facts] and [Teddy Bear Tries] worksheets for each student.


Day One

1. Ask students to get their teddy bears out and keep them at their desks.

2. Explain that the bears will help them in selecting addition or subtraction as a means for solving problems.

3. Write “Addition” and “Subtraction” on the board with their symbols.

4. Ask students to brainstorm key words that let them know whether they should add or subtract and words that are related to these operations. Examples include: plus, more, join, altogether, in all (adding); minus, left, go, went, take away, less (subtracting). List the key words under the proper heading (Addition or Subtraction). If students have difficulty remembering related words, tell several stories emphasizing key words.

6. Ask students to listen closely as you tell a simple addition story, such as: “Five bears are in a cave. Two more bears come along. How many bears are there in all?” Act out this story with their bears in front of the class. Ask students what key word or words identify the process of addition. List them on the board if they are not already there. Ask for a volunteer to come to the board and write the related addition sentence. Repeat this process with several addition stories using different words for additional practice.

7. Ask students to listen closely as you tell a simple subtraction story, such as: “Ten bears are eating. Two leave to take a nap. How many are still eating?”. Act out this story with their bears in front of the class. Ask students what key word or words let them know to subtract and list them on the board if they are not already there. Repeat this process with several subtraction stories using different words for additional practice.

8. Distribute two index cards per child and the worksheet [Practicing The Bear Facts] (See associated file.), and instruct students to make a minus sign on one card and a plus sign on the other card using their crayons.

9. Read the story problems from the worksheet and tell students to listen for key words in the problems and select the appropriate card that reflects the correct operation. Discuss which symbol is correct and the key words used in the problems.

10. Ask students to write number sentences on their papers for each problem and solve. Monitor students progress and give corrective feedback as needed.

Day Two

1. Distribute [Teddy Bear Tries] worksheet for formative assessment. (See associated file.)


Students complete worksheets demonstrating the ability to select the appropriate operation (addition or subtraction) using pictures. Students write number sentences that correlate with each picture for each operation.
Observe students, giving corrective feedback as needed.
Formatively assess learning using the answer key provided in the associated file. Provide additional opportunities for practice.


1. Give students a large piece of drawing paper folded in half. Instruct students to draw an addition picture and write the matching number sentence below their picture. On the other half of the paper, tell students to do the same process using subtraction. Ask students to orally present their pictures and sentences and tell a story for each.
2. Combine their pictures and sentences (Extension 1) into a big book titled, [Beary Good Problem Solvers].

Attached Files

Answer Key     File Extension: pdf

Teddy Bear Tries     File Extension: pdf

Practicing the Bear Facts     File Extension: pdf

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