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Picnic Day

 Math Lesson
for Picnic Day

The students will write and solve addition and subtraction equations.


  • A picnic basket with a lid (if not available, use a box with a lid to resemble a picnic basket, or place a piece of cloth over the top of a regular basket)

  • Picnic items, such as plastic silverware and paper cups (a total of 10 or 20 items, depending on the ability of the students)

  • Picnic Basket Math Worksheet



  1. Have the students sit on the floor in a circle or in an area where they can easily view the picnic basket.  Place the picnic basket where the students can see it.  Be sure the picnic items are inside the basket.  Decide ahead of time how many items are appropriate for the students to work with.  Younger students may be most comfortable working with 10 items and older students may use 20.

  2. Tell the students they will be playing "The Picnic Basket Math Game".  Place 2 items on top of the basket lid (or cloth) with the other items remaining covered inside the basket.  Instruct the students to close their eyes.  Add two more items to the top of the basket.  Have the students open their eyes and ask them whether you added items or took them away.  Work together to write the equation 2 + 2 = 4, representing what you did on the top of the basket.  

  3. Place 5 items on top of the basket.  When the students close their eyes, take 3 away and hide them in the basket.  Again, ask the students upon opening their eyes, whether items were added or taken away.  Work together to write the equation 5-3=2.

  4. Pass out the Picnic Basket Math Worksheet.  Pass the basket around the classroom and have each student take a turn being the leader of the game by adding subtracting items from the top of the basket.  As each student completes his/her turn, work together to write an equation for the worksheet.


Other Lesson Ideas

  1. Read the book the 512 Ants on Sullivan Street by Carol A. Losi.  Have a lesson on doubling numbers.

  2. Have a lesson on division by passing out a small picnic item to use as a manipulative (such as pretzel sticks).  Each child should receive the same number of pretzels (such as 20).  Ask questions pertaining to dividing up the snack.  For example, "if 10 guests come to the party, how many pretzel sticks will each person get?"  The book How Hungry Are You? by Donna Jo Napoli works well with this lesson.

  3. Read the book Monster Math Picnic by Grace Maccarone.  This lesson focuses on different combinations for equaling 10.



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