T4T Yellow and Red Birds

Download full, formatted lesson:

Download: lesson5-birds-oa1-cluster1.docx

Lesson excerpt:

NC Mathematics Standards:

Represent and solve problems.

NC.1.OA.1 Represent and solve addition and subtraction word problems, within 20, with unknowns, by using objects, drawings, and equations with a symbol for the unknown number to represent the problem, when solving:

• Add to/Take from-Change Unknown

• Put together/Take Apart-Addend Unknown

• Compare-Difference Unknown


Standards for Mathematical Practice:

1.      Make sense and persevere while solving problems in mathematics.

2.      Reason abstractly and quantitatively.

4.  Model with mathematics.


Student Outcomes:

●     I can work with classmates to choose a strategy to solving a math problem.

●     I can persevere while solving a math problem.  

●     I can explain to my teacher and classmates how I solved a math problem.


Math Language:

●     Join, Part, Total


●     Multi-link cubes, Two-color counters


Advance Preparation:

●     Gather materials.



  1. Ask students What does it mean to persevere?  Explain to students that persevering means that you keep working and trying to accomplish a task even when it is hard. Give examples if needed, such as The Little Engine that Could, or other relatable stories.



2.      Give the students the task There are 10 birds. Some are yellow and some are red. How many of each could there be? We want to find as many combinations of yellow and red birds as we can.



Give students access to multi-link (pop) cubes or two-color counters if they choose to use them. Also consider giving them a part-part-whole mat or ten frame that is attached.   

Ask the class to think for a second about the problem. Reread it if needed. Then have students retell the problem to you in their own words.


As students begin working on the task with partners or in small groups observe how they start and support them by asking questions.




Questions to Ask

Students grab more than 10 objects and start organizing them OR

Students do not have a way to start exploring the task.

·         What does the problem tell us?

·         How can we use manipulatives/objects to help us?

Students make two piles of 10 objects and then start moving them around.

·         What does the problem tell us?

·         Are there 10 yellow and 10 red birds or 10 birds total?




  • Bring the students back together to discuss their strategies and solutions. As you record the solutions consider using a 2 column table. An example is below.























Sample Questions

Possible Responses

(in order of least to most sophisticated)

·         How did you explore this task?

·         I put 10 2 color counters out. I put some so they were yellow and some so they were red. I counted and wrote it down. Then I flipped some yellow ones to make them red and counted and wrote. I did this a few times.

·         I put 2 color counters on the ten frame mat with 5 red and 5 yellow. Then I turned each red one to yellow until I had 9 red and 1 yellow. Then I started again with 5 red and 5 yellow but this time turned each yellow one to red until I had 9 yellow and 1 red.  

·         I used red and yellow pop cubes. I started with 9 yellow and 1 red since that was the most yellow we could have. Then I took away 1 yellow and added 1 red and recorded each combination.


·         Why is the number 2 in both columns of our table?

·         I notice that 2 is paired with 8 in both rows. In one case it is 2 yellow birds and 8 red birds and in the other case it means 2 red birds and 8 yellow birds.

·         I know that 2 joined with 8 is 10. Based on the table I see that 8 joined with 2 is also 10. Switching the 2 and the 8 does not change the answer.

·         Is 10 and 0 a possible combination? Why or why not?

·         The problem says that there are some red and yellow birds so 10 and 0 is not a possible combination.  


The teacher could have the class also explore a number less than 10 as a follow-up task or proceed to the additional activities (centers) described below.


Finish the discussion by sharing:  In this task you had to persevere and keep trying since our task had many possible answers. In math we always want to try to persevere and work hard because that will make us a better mathematician.

Return to top