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Top Ten PreK-2 Lesson Plans & Activities from Illuminations

Having trouble sorting through all the wonderful resources Illuminations has to offer? Not to worry! We've complied a fail-proof list of our top ten! Have comments, suggestions, and or evidence of impact? We'd love to hear from you!

Top Ten Lesson Plans


Tangram Puzzles

In this activity, students choose a picture and use all seven Tangram pieces to fill in the outline. They describe and visualize what figures look like when they are transformed through rotations, reflections, or translations, and are put together or taken apart in different ways. This activity helps students to develop their spatial memory and spatial visualization skills, to recognize and apply transformations, and to become more precise in their use of vocabulary about space. Students use an internet-based tool to explore tangram puzzles.


Finding Addition Patterns

A game encourages students to find the sums of two one-digit numbers. Students explore commutativity and examine addition patterns. Then they record known facts on a personal addition chart.


Grouchy Lessons of Time

This lesson provides an introduction to and practice with the concept of time. The activities focus students’ attention on the attributes of time and enables students at varying levels to develop knowledge and skills in using time.


Building Numbers Up to 10

Students construct sets of numbers up to 10, write the numerals up to 10, and count up to 10 rationally. They use ten frames and also make bean sticks.


Building Numbers to Five

In this lesson, students make groups of zero to 5 objects, connect number names to the groups, compose and decompose numbers, and use numerals to record the size of a group. Visual, auditory, and kinesthetic activities are used to help students begin to acquire a sense of number.


I've Seen That Shape Before

Students learn the names of solid geometric shapes and explore their properties. At various centers, they use physical models of simple solid shapes, including cubes, cones, spheres, rectangular prisms, and triangular prisms.


Comparing Columns on a Bar Graph

During this lesson, students apply what they know about comparison subtraction by constructing bar graphs and using the graphs to answer questions.


How Many Letters Are in Your Name?

Students review numbers 1 to 10 by counting the number of letters in their names and their classmates' names. They also write and order numbers. The class compiles students' finished product in a class book.


Hopping on the Number Line

In this lesson, students generate sums using the number line model. This model highlights the measurement aspect of addition and is a distinctly different representation of the operation from the model presented in the previous lesson. The order (commutative) property is also introduced. At the end of the lesson, students are encouraged to predict sums and to answer puzzles involving addition.


Let's Count to 20!

6 Individual lessons included. Look under Related Resources for the pack.


Top Ten Activities

Okta's Rescue

Oh, no! Okta and his friends need help. Help rescue them by transporting them to a safe ocean. How fast can you transport the Oktas? Use your counting skills to save as many as you can before the timer runs out.


Bobbie Bear

Bobbie Bear is planning a vacation and wants to know how many outfits can be made using different colored shirts and pants.


Grouping and Grazing

Help the alien spaceship move cows into corrals by counting, adding, and subtracting. This activity helps children learn grouping, tally marks, and place value. As they master counting, they can move on to adding and subtracting two-digit numbers.


Turtle Pond

Guide a turtle to a pond using computer commands.


How Many Under the Shell?

After Okta hides some bubbles under a shell, he then either adds more bubbles or takes some away. Students have to determine how many bubbles are left under the shell.


Patch Tool

Quilters and other designers sometimes start by producing square patches with a pattern on them. These square patches are then repeated and connected to produce a larger pattern. Create your own patch using the shapes in the tool below.


Five Frame

Thinking about numbers using frames of 5 can be a helpful way to learn basic number facts. The four games that can be played with this applet help to develop counting and addition skills. (This applet works well when used in conjunction with the Ten Frame applet.)


Geometric Solids

This tool allows you to learn about various geometric solids and their properties. You can manipulate and color each shape to explore the number of faces, edges, and vertices, and you can also use this tool to investigate the following question:

For any polyhedron, what is the relationship between the number of faces, vertices, and edges?

What other questions can this tool help you answer?


Ten Frame

Thinking about numbers using frames of 10 can be a helpful way to learn basic number facts. The four games that can be played with this applet help to develop counting and addition skills. (This applet works well when used in conjunction with the Five Frame applet.)



By yourself or against a friend, match whole numbers, shapes, fractions, or multiplication facts to equivalent representations. Practice with the clear panes or step up the challenge with the windows closed. How many socks can you win?


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