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7 Common Core Math Activities for 1st Graders

September 10, 2013

0min Read


For many teachers and administrators, the start of the 2013-14 school year also means the full implementation of the Common Core State Standards. Because the CCSS are guidelines and not a national curriculum, many first grade teachers looking to meet new Grade 1 math standards for their kiddoes have been busily preparing new lesson plans over the summer. Here are seven unique ideas for fun first grade CCSS-aligned math activities to get you started:

1. Dominoes

The CCSS require first graders to know how to represent and solve problems involving addition and subtraction. To make the process a little more fun, use dominoes to practice addition. Place a stack of numeral cards in front of the students and flip one over. Ask them to find dominoes that have that total number of dots, then have them record their thought processes on a sheet of paper as an addition equation.

2. Build trains with snap cubes

Snap cubes are one manipulative that presents endless possibilities for teaching first grade math. Under the CCSS, first graders need to understand that 5 + 3 = 3 + 5. Have students use snap cubes to create a train made of two colors (they can choose their favorite hues). Have them build a train using less than 10 cubes and write a number sentence describing what they’ve created. Then, have students flip the train and write the new sequence. This will help them understand that no matter the order of the numbers, the total is the same.

3. Bracelets

Bringing arts and crafts into math lessons always makes them more fun. To teach first graders about place value (for example, how a bundle of 10 can be thought of as 10 ones), create bracelets using pipe cleaner and beads. Have students each count out 10 beads of their favorite color and string them onto the pipe cleaner. After they’ve made the bracelets, show them how to push the beads to either side to demonstrate different pairs of numbers that can add up to 10.

4. Apple orchard field trip

It’s always fun to take math learning outside of the classroom, so why not take first graders on a field trip to the apple orchard? Have them count the apples as they each fill their own barrel. You can then use the different colored apples to demonstrate a word problem. For example, showing all of the different combinations of red and yellow apples that can be used to create a box of 10.

5. 100 day celebration

Reaching the 100th day of school is always exciting for students, so why not harness all of that energy into a math lesson? It’s great practice to support Common Core State Standards, which require first graders to be able to count to 120.  Have each student bring in a group of 100 items to celebrate and have a gallery walk around the classroom.

6. Plus one/minus one game

Why not create math activities using dice? To help first graders practice their addition and subtraction skills, create a mat resembling a bingo board that contains the numbers two through seven. Split students into pairs and give them each 10 counters (these can be anything from shapes made of construction paper to checkerboard pieces). Each player then takes a turn rolling the die and adding one (or subtracting one, depending on the game) and placing his or her counter on the corresponding number. The game ends when the students have used up all of their counters.

7. Fun DreamBox lessons

Kids today are tech savvy – most don’t remember a world without computers. To keep them engaged, use DreamBox Learning’s Intelligent Adaptive Learning technology to explore new concepts and build comprehension. The game-like learning environment, with lessons aligned to the Common Core, make learning fun with themes, characters, and a reward system.

Want more tips for successfully planning for CCSS math? Check out this free white paper from DreamBox.


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