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How To Easily Teach Math Intervention for Addition to 5 With Cubes

This Kindergarten-level intervention focuses explicitly on entry-level skills for addition. Before the students understand what the plus and equals symbols mean, we must establish the “and” and “is” concept – "and" meaning two groups of objects, and “is” meaning the combination of the two together.

This intervention is going to cover five categories:

  • Introduction

  • Teacher Modeling

  • Differentiation

  • Independent Practice

  • Assessment


First, we are going to display two blue cubes and one green cube. When they come together and become one, we use the terms "in all," "together," or "is." Eventually we'll transition to saying “equals.”

As you have these two groups of objects laid out on your table, we will ask the students to observe and think about what they see quietly. We want them to be accessing previous knowledge they might bring to the table about combining things and putting things together. What are they noticing?

We're asking the students to do this quietly because the minute one student blurts out a concept, a connection, or their thoughts, it will stop all the others from thinking. They will focus directly on what that one student said, whether it's correct or incorrect.

After a few seconds of thinking time, go ahead and combine the objects to form one group. Place the grouping on the table in front of the students, reminding them to think quietly. Repeat the action at least three more times using different cube combinations.

In the second demonstration, try three orange cubes and two pink cubes. Connect your cubes and once again, lay them out on the table. As you connect, emphasize the numbers in each grouping and use the academic vocabulary of "and" and "is" as you move your hands.

Finally, our last grouping will be two purple cubes and two green cubes. Go ahead and connect those and lay them out on the table.

Guiding Question

Now you want to do is read the guiding question to the students: What does it mean to join or put together two groups?

At this point, the students talk and share about their previous knowledge of addition and what it means to join and put together.

Teacher Modeling and Differentiation

Before I dive into the teacher modeling portion of this lesson, I want to pause to talk about differentiation. This particular lesson is differentiated into five very strategic areas:

  1. Content: Review the academic vocabulary before you start the lesson. This way, kids understand what the specific words are and how to use them in combining and joining.

  2. Lesson Delivery: Keep the group small. There should be no more than five students in any differentiated lesson.

  3. Materials: We are using high-interest manipulatives; the more colorful they are, the more fun they are to touch, the sound they make when you put them together…all the little things add up to an experience that the kids are starting to make connections through.

  4. Worksheet Instructions: You want to make sure to have instructions on your worksheet but also have keywords bolded or highlighted within the instructions. So, whether you are using a worksheet you found on the Internet or making your own, make sure the instructions have all your academic vocabulary or keywords highlighted for the students.

  5. Worksheet Problem Set: The last piece of differentiation on the worksheet is going to be the reduced problems set. This particular worksheet focuses on four questions for proficiency.

If you differentiate your worksheets or you are looking to find some on the Internet, I'd go with this scale.

  1. beginning

  2. practicing

  3. emerging

  4. proficient

Now we've reached the point of the lesson where we will start teacher modeling. This is the process of “I say, they say, we show,” so it is good

to practice and make it your own rather than read a cold script.

In the lesson plan, it is written out in the format:

  • say

  • show

  • listen

Independent Practice

To inspire reluctant learners and to get buy-in from all the students, ask them to select their own colors to demonstrate this themselves and with their peers. A student is more likely to engage in the learning process if they choose how the material is delivered and received.

Top Three Tips for Teaching Addition to 5

  1. Use the brightest colored cube manipulatives you can find.

  2. Make them highly tactile.

  3. Give students a choice of which colors they want to use.


These are my hands down favorite math connecting cubes for teaching addition. I have tried at least three other brands, but nothing has gained me more engagement than these. Bright colors, easy snap-together, and fun to touch. Bonus – I have a small mesh bag for tossing them in the dishwasher, but one warning: Don’t use the high heat dry setting. Yikes!



You can easily use the proficiency rankings I mentioned above to give a quick assessment of each student’s worksheet.

For more content like this and to view complementary videos, you can look us up on YouTube @The Differentiated Classroom and subscribe to get notified when we post new content.

Easy to use lesson including worksheets and assessment for addition to 5 with cubes

DIY Materials for Teaching Addition to 5

Introducing the "plus" and "equals" symbols.

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