Did you just read the title and think I have completely lost my mind? I don’t blame you. I thought the same thing when my college professor told me that kindergarteners could solve word problems that involved multiplication and division! But then she showed me how (I mean seriously, we watched 3+ hours worth of videos of kindergartners solving word problems.)

This lesson will show you how to teach your Lil’ the concept of addition using the methods I learned in college (minus the 3+ hours of watching kinders.) So, word problems are also called story problems and when you give a Lil’ manipulatives (blocks, cheerios, etc.) to act out the story they can typically solve the story problem. So that is exactly what we are going to do. Our stories will be SUPER simple and we will not be using any math vocabulary  or symbols, but I promise you this is still addition!

Lil’ Explorers grab a FREE copy of the Adding Sea Creatures template HERE!

Lil’ Creators grab a FREE copy of the Adding Sea Creatures template HERE!

Lil’ Explorers Focus Skills

Algebraic Thinking

  • Count from 0-10 (1-5)
  • Understand values of numbers 0-10 (1-5)
  • Combine sets to get larger sets up to 10 total (Up to 5)

Lil’ Creators Focus Skills

Algebraic Thinking

  • Count from 0-20 (1-10)
  • Understand values of numbers 0-20 (1-10)
  • Combine sets to get larger sets up to 20 total (Up to 10)

Required Materials

*Affiliate Link

*Small Plastic Bin

*Plastic Sea Animals


Adding Sea Creatures - Lil' Explorers

Adding Sea Creatures - Lil' Creators

Step #1

Print out the sample story problems and cut out the number cards

Step #2

Fill the bin half way with water

Step #3

Read the first story problem to your Lil’ and encourage them to “act it out” with the manipulative (sea animals). You will have them do ONE step at a time.

Step #4

Repeat step three for each story problem.

Step #5

Lil’ Creator’s Parents – Encourage your Creator to come up with their own story problem, you could even “act” it out for them! They would love that and it will help them deepen their understanding.

Teacher Tip

You may have to model this process for your child once or twice. That is totally normal and okay!


Can you believe it! Your preschooler just added!! This will give your Lil’ a strong conceptual understanding of addition! Let us know what you think!