Grade Levels: K-3

In this number sense lesson plan which is adaptable for grades K-4, students will use jelly beans in an online game and real jellybeans as math manipulatives to practice number sense concepts, such as counting, more and less, estimation, algebraic thinking and missing addend equations, and addition and subtraction math facts.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Use an online math game to practice number sense concepts.
  2. Use jelly beans as math manipulatives to create and play their own hands-on math game.


  • Computers with internet access for BrainPOP
  • Interactive whiteboard (or just an LCD projector)
  • Two small bags of jelly beans for each student (one for using as math manipulatives, and one for eating)


This lesson uses a free online math game by Playpower Labs. To prepare, explore the Jelly Bean game yourself and determine which skills you would like to target: counting, number sense, or math facts. Within each section of the game, there are three levels, so it's important to choose which one is most appropriate for your students (or which levels of the game you will use for each of your students, if you want to provide differentiated game play opportunities):

Level 1: Type in the number of jelly beans
Level 2: Basic addition and subtraction with beans
Level 3: Counting arrays of jelly beans (addition and subtraction with multiple digits)

Number Sense:
Level 1: Choose the larger group of jelly beans
Level 2: Estimate the number of jelly beans
Level 3: More difficult combination of levels 1 and 2

Math Facts
Level 1: Addition and subtraction with numbers and beans
Level 2: Addition and subtraction to "Make 10"
Level 3: A mix of slightly harder problems

Note that you can click the clock in the main menu to turn off the timer during game play.

You should also choose a BrainPOP Jr. movie topic that is most closely related to your target skills. We recommend using Counting On, Repeated Subtraction, Basic Subtraction, Making Equal Groups, Adding and Subtracting Tens, or Making Ten for this lesson.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Play the BrainPOP Jr. movie that is related to the version of Jelly Bean that your students will be playing (a list of relevant movie topics and links can be found in the Preparation section above.) You might also want to project the Word Wall related to the movie, and have students review the math vocabulary terms they will need to use during game play.
  2. Project the Jelly Bean game for the class to see. Demonstrate for students how to navigate into the portion of the game you would like them to play. You can also play several rounds of the game as a class and have student volunteers share their problem solving strategies.
  3. Pair students up and have them explore the Jelly Bean game together for 5-10 minutes. Students can take turns answering the questions, or one player can suggest the answer and the other player can click on it or type it in. Encourage students to explain their thinking to their partners using the math vocabulary words they've learned.
  4. Bring students back to a whole class discussion and have volunteers share their strategies for game play.
  5. Show students the bag of jelly beans you have for them, explaining that they are for playing math games and not for eating (although you will have untouched jelly beans that they can eat when the activity is finished.)
  6. Tell students that their job is to re-create the game they just played, or create another math game that practices the same skills. For example, students could take turns dividing the jelly beans into two piles and having the other player explain which amount shows more. Or, they could take turns showing only a few of the jelly beans to their partner and having their partner estimate the amount of jelly beans they have. Struggling students may want to recreate the online game literally, while more advanced students may want add an additional challenge or twist to game play. Extend students' thinking as needed.
  7. Pass out the jelly beans and give students several minutes to plan their game and decide on rules. Then allow 5-10 minutes of playing time. Afterward, you may want students to switch partners and teach their version of the Jelly Bean Game to their new partner, and practice their math skills in a different way.
  8. Have students throw away their jelly beans (or keep them in plastic baggies to use for math centers or later game play) and distribute the clean jelly beans for students to eat as a treat.
  9. You may want to have students reflect in writing about what they learned during the game, or brainstorm different ways they could play the game in the future. You can also use the BrainPOP Jr. movie quiz to assess student learning.

Extension Activities:

Be sure to check out our full collection of free online math games in GameUp!