Home » Math » 5 Free M & M Word Problems to Practice Adding and Subtracting Within 20

These free M & M Word Problems will help your child practice adding and subtracting within 20 by working with 10 frames, number lines, and equations.

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It is almost inevitable.

He walks in the door. Or we sit down to eat on Wednesday at the local home cooking place. And even on the days I drop the twins off so the others can go to piano lessons, I can almost predict the words we will hear!

“Guess what I have in my pocket today, ” Pop will say with a smile.

He now has the attention of all four of my children….not a small feat I might add!

They look at him with excitement building in their eyes. Then at least one, if not all, will yell, “M & M’s!!!!!!”

Those small packs of M & M’s are a special treat for my little ones, and this fun interaction between them and their Pop makes it even more enjoyable.

And today, I decided to use those special treats to get some word problem practice in!

Prep Work for M & M Word Problems

  1. Print off the M & M Word Problems you plan to use.
  2. Gather up pencils and M and M’s ( I would recommend getting a large pack and pouring them into a bowl)

How to Use

The M & M Word Problems are mainly for 1 st graders but would work great for advanced kindergarten students or 2nd graders who are struggling. They are simple to use, and focus on solving adding and subtracting word problems within 20 in three different ways.

Ten Frames

The first way to solve is through ten frames. The child or parent will read the problem and then use the M & M’s to model the problem in the ten frames. In the example above, we learn that Ellen has six more M & M’s than Elisa and that Elisa has nine. The student started by placing nine M & M’s in the ten frame and then adding six more. Now it is easy to see that Ellen has 15 M & M’s.

Number Line

Next, the student moves unto number lines. On the word problems I have designed for kindergartners, the numbers are already written in. These number lines are blank though. This forces child to really think through the problem and decide where they have to start for the number line to work…especially when subtraction is involved. For this example, the child started at 8 (one before the nine they knew they needed to start with.) They then put a dot at the nine and moved up six spaces to get to 15!


Finally, the children write the equation. If they have done the number line and the ten frames correctly, this part is easy. They simply look at where they started on the number line, decide whether they added or subtracted, figure out how many spaces they moved, and where they ended up. Now they can easily see that 9 + 6 = 15

These M & M word problems are a fun place to start when introducing word problems. Being able to use candy adds excitement and the ten frames and number lines help children visualize the word problems.

So the next time a grandparent shows up with a special treat…..save them for a little word problem work. I’m sure your kiddos will thank you:)

You’ve Got This


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