EL Support Lesson

Three Addend Word Problems

Support your students' understanding of word problems as they invent strategies to add three addends in any order. Use this scaffolded EL lesson plan alone or with **How'd You Get that Many?**
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for theHow'd You Get That Many?Lesson plan.
GradeSubjectView aligned standards

No standards associated with this content.

No standards associated with this content.

Which set of standards are you looking for?

This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for theHow'd You Get That Many?Lesson plan.

Students will be able to add three whole numbers whose sums are within 20.


Students will be able to make sense of and describe steps to solve story problems involving three addends using visual and partner support.

(5 minutes)
Three Addend Word ProblemsTeach Background Knowledge TemplateWrite Student-Facing Language Objectives Reference
  • Write the following story problem on the board, and point to the words as you read aloud: "My friend Jenni loves to draw! Yesterday she drew seven trees, six birds and three flowers. How many things did Jenni draw in all?"
  • Review the irregular past tense verb "drew" by having students repeat after you, "Today I draw. Yesterday I drew." Gesture in the air to show drawing a picture.
  • Tell students to turn and talk to a partner about what they know about the problem without using numbers.
  • Call on students to describe the situation presented in the problem. For example, Jenni drew some things, and then she drew some more things. The problem is asking how many things Jenni drew all together.
(5 minutes)
  • Reread the problem a second time, and ask students to identify words that gives clues as to which maths operation is needed to solve the problem.
  • Point out that the words "in all" suggest Addition, or finding the whole of two or more parts. Tell students to repeat, "addition."
  • Ask students to show you on their fingers how many trees Jenni drew (seven). Write the numeral 7, and explain that 7 is part of the total number of drawings. Seven is an Addend, or a number that get added to another number. Tell students to repeat "addend."
  • Next, ask students which maths symbol is needed to show addition (plus sign). Write the plus sign next to the seven, and have students repeat "plus sign" as they form a plus sign with their arms.
  • Ask students to show you on their fingers how many birds Jenni drew. Repeat with flowers. Write the equation 7 + 6 + 3.
  • Tell students you want to know the total number of pictures Jenni drew. Ask students which maths symbol means "the same as" and have them repeat, "Equal sign". Add the equal sign to the equation.
  • Tell students that you will now add the numbers to find the SumOr total of all three numbers.
  • Provide the sentence frame, "We could solve the problem by ____" and allow students to turn and talk to a partner to brainstorm possible solution methods.
(10 minutes)
  • Take student suggestions for ways to solve the problem, for example drawing a picture or counting on on the number line.
  • Ask students if anyone noticed other ways to solve the problem. For example, add 7 + 3 = 10First since 10 is a friendly number. Then, add the remaining part to solve: 10 + 6 = 16.
  • Reflect that you can add the numbers in any order, connecting the 7 and 3 with a V, and writing "10" below.
  • Tell students that they will work with a partner to solve more story problems that involve adding three parts, or addends. Challenge students to show more than one way to solve the problem.
  • Give each student a copy of the Three Addend Word Problem worksheet.
  • Tell students that before they begin to solve the problems, they will discuss the situations presented in the problems with a partner. All pencils should be down.
  • Read the first problem together chorally. Tell students to turn and talk to a partner to describe what the question is asking using their own words.
  • Continue with the other problems. Use visuals to teach any unfamiliar vocabulary, and act out the problems as needed to support comprehension.
(10 minutes)
  • Once all students understand the context of the problems and which mathematical operation is needed, excuse them to work with a partner to solve the problems.
  • Encourage students to try to solve each problem in more than one way.
  • Provide the sentence frame, "I solved the problem by ____" and ask students to explain their strategies to a partner. Choose a few students to share with the whole class.


  • Work in a teacher-led small group to discuss and solve the word problems.
  • Provide additional scaffolding such as visuals and an opportunity to act out the problems to support comprehension of word problems.
  • Translate the word problems to students' home language (L1) if possible.


  • Instruct students to explain the steps to add three parts to find a whole in their own words.
  • Challenge students to compare and contrast two different strategies for solving word problems with three addends.
(5 minutes)
  • Circulate as students work and observe which strategies they use to solve the word problems. Notice whether students are able to use more than one strategy. For example, are they able to draw a picture and write an equation?
  • Observe whether students add the numbers out of order, using knowledge of doubles facts or combinations of ten.
  • Prompt students to explain their thinking as they solve each problem. If students make errors, encourage self-correction of errors by asking guiding questions rather than rushing to provide the correct answer.
(5 minutes)
  • Call students back together, and list strategies students used to solve the problems. Say something like, "I saw students draw pictures and count on the number line. I also saw students write equations."
  • Review student answers to the problems. Ask students to explain how they solved each problem. Highlight strategies such as using a doubles fact or making a ten that can be used to solve the same problem more than one way.

Add to collection

Create new collection

Create new collection

New Collection