EL Support Lesson

One Less

Students will love learning about patterns of one less using puppets! This can be used as a stand alone or support lesson for the **How Big is Your Tower?** lesson plan.
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for theHow Big is Your Tower?Lesson plan.
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This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for theHow Big is Your Tower?Lesson plan.

Students will be able to solve subtraction equations of one less.


Students will be able to explain patterns of one less by using counting manipulatives.

(2 minutes)
Teach Background Knowledge TemplateWrite Student-Facing Language Objectives ReferenceVocabulary Cards: One LessGlossary: One Less
  • Gather students together for the lesson.
  • Show the puppet and say, "My friend, the sock snake is hungry! She has four cookies (counters) and wants to eat one!"
  • Model the puppet eating one of the counters. Then say, "How many cookies does she have left?"
  • Count the remainder, encouraging the students to count along with you.
(5 minutes)
  • Say, "Today we are going to learn more about Subtraction, remember that subtraction means to separate or take something away."
  • Write 4 - 1 = 3 On the board and say, "This is called a subtraction Equation. We use this to read or record our subtraction equations. We read this equation as, four minus one equals three."
  • Point to the number three on the number chart and explain that three is one less than four. Repeat the equation from above to show how four counters minus one counter equals three counters.
  • Explain to students that one way to find the number that is one less, is to look on the number chart.
(5 minutes)
  • Hold up the puppet and say, "The sock snake is hungry again! This time she has three cookies and she is going to eat one. How many cookies will she have left?"
  • Write the equation 3 - 1 = ?On the board and ask the students to repeat after you as you read it aloud.
  • Pair students together and pass out three counters to each pair.
  • Ask students to work with their partner and use their counters to figure out how many cookies the snake will have left.
  • Use the number chart to show that two is one less than three.
  • Repeat with an additional problem using a number less than 10.
(15 minutes)
  • Tell students that they will get to use their own paper bag puppet to practise subtracting one.
  • Explain that students will work in pairs and one partner will write a subtraction equation on their paper using the frame,____- 1 = ____And the other partner will show how to solve the equation using the paper bag puppet and counters. The partners should say the equation aloud and check that their answer is correct using a number line.
  • Model the steps, having students repeat them after you.
  • Write ____- 1 = ____On the board.
  • Pass out laminated sentence strips, markers, a paper bag, a number line, and counters to each pair.
  • Send them off to work independently.


  • Work within a smaller group and have students practise using reading and solving equations as a group.
  • Allow students to count in their home language (L1).


  • Encourage students to write additional subtraction equations using patterns of one less. Have students turn and talk to share their equations with a partner.
(5 minutes)
  • As students are working in pairs, assess whether students are able to accurately write, solve, and read their subtraction equations.
  • Collect work samples and assess if students were able to solve equations of one less.
(3 minutes)
  • Gather the class have back together and ask 1-2 pairs to share one of their equations with the class. As a class practise solving the equation.

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