Concrete Learning for One More and One Less

Written by Donna Boucher

Donna has been a teacher, math instructional coach, interventionist, and curriculum coordinator. A frequent speaker at state and national conferences, she shares her love for math with a worldwide audience through her website, Math Coach’s Corner. Donna is also the co-author of Guided Math Workshop.

Last week I shared an activity for practicing one more and one less than a number. Tonight I wanted to talk a little about the CRA (concrete, representational, abstract) sequence of instruction and backtrack with that particular skill.  The last activity I posted was very abstract.  In other words, it uses only symbols (numerals). It would be an activity that would follow the type of concrete activity I’m sharing tonight.  In this activity, students chose a card, build the number on a double ten-frame, and either add or take one away from the number.  Each task card includes a sentence frame for using the correct vocabulary and pictorial support.

Grab your freebie here.

If this activity is useful to you, I hope you’ll comment and share!

Are you looking for more resources that feature concrete learning? You might want to check out this unit on the meaning of the equal sign.


  1. melissacollins3

    Thank you so much! I love finding new ideas for math on your blog!

  2. Deb

    Thank-you! I have an intervention group that needs activities like this!

    Not very fancy

  3. TheElementary MathManiac

    This is great! So many kids never get the concrete stage and I find when that happens they have a hard time holding onto the abstract skill.

    The Math Maniac

    • Donna Boucher

      So glad you find it useful, Donna! 🙂

  4. Cathy Lien

    This is great! I can’t wait to use it. Thank you!

  5. TAM

    Thanks for sharing this. I love the picture support so my littles can see the take one away. And the math language on the cards is great too. I think we will enlarge a few of these to use whole group on a magnetic ten frame— then let them do it small group or in math stations.

  6. Jacquie

    Thank you so much! This is exactly what I’m working on with my grade 1 kids. They will love this! 🙂


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