Addition & Subtraction Word Problems Within 20

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Word Problems: Addition and Subtraction within 20


20 Step-by-Step Math Lessons | Special Education Math Intervention | First Grade Math Level


This Addition and Subtraction Word Problems lesson workbook includes an example IEP goal, 20 step-by-step lessons, plus 116 more practice pages. This evidence-based math intervention is tied to first grade standards and is great for special education math goals and tier 2 small group math interventions (RTI).

My first grade students would often rush to complete story problems without understanding them first. If we were in an addition chapter, they would find the numbers and add. If we were in a subtraction chapter, they would automatically subtract.

This lesson workbook provides schema-based instruction, teaching students a framework for solving common types of word problems.  Numbers are kept within 10 so that computation is simple and secondary, the primary focus is understanding when to add and when to subtract.  These sequential lessons build math vocabulary and listening comprehension.

Along with basic vocabulary, students learn about three basic types of problems: joining vs. separating, comparing vs. combining, and looking for a part vs. whole. Students enjoy “acting out” the rules they need to follow when deciding to add or subtract.

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This Lesson Workbook PDF Download Includes:

★ Student Booklet Cover

★ 2 Lessons on Reading and Writing Math Symbols + - =

★ 9 Lessons on Joining and Separating

★ 4 Lessons on Whole and Part

★ 5 Lessons on Combining and Comparing

★ 116 pages of “More Practice” and Mixed Review Problems

★ Answer Key


Students Will Be Able To:

  • Read and write math symbols + - =
  • Understand vocabulary often found in word problems including:  gets, gives away, came, went, finds, loses, makes, breaks, in all, left, altogether, sum, more than, fewer, difference, total, some, the rest
  • Listen to word problems and decide to add or subtract
  • Represent a problem with a quick picture or by filling in boxes
  • Write an equation and solve for the answer

There is no decorative clip art in these lessons.  They can be used with any age or grade.


Teacher Feedback:

❤️ "This is really helping my students with special needs understand word problem concepts! It has always been so challenging to help them learn why we add or subtract. The visuals and hand motions make sense to them!!! Thank you!" -Dana W.


❤️ “My students have a much better grasp on the fact that something is happening in the story and that you can't just look at the numbers and guess.” -Angela D.


❤️ “I love this packet and how you incorporated body movements into it! My students enjoy completing these worksheets and are really grasping word problems now! Thank you!”


❤️ “This is a great program for my small group to understand the meaning of math signs, equations and basic math vocabulary in word problems.” -Gertrud M.


❤️ "This is a great tool to help students understand word problems!" -Kate S.


❤️ "Amazing (as always)! Concepts are beautifully and understandably broken down. So many best practices for developing math vocab are included!" -Erin M.


❤️ "My students are all on different levels, and one student has begun to use this resource so far. It is amazing how she responds to the step-by-step instruction in this resource. We had gotten stuck on word problems because she was not seeing which operation to use, even with charts with the words that tell us which operation to use, and frequent review of those words, and verbal prompts to highlight the words. I like how these clue words are introduced two at a time, and thoroughly practiced before moving to the next pair." -Cynthia H.


❤️ "I am currently using this to teach word problems in my self-contained classroom. I love the lesson structure and the visual supports. It enables all of my students to participate in the lesson regardless of their ability level. Love it!" -Amber K.


❤️ "Great resource! Very helpful for teaching my students how to differentiate between addition and subtraction word problems." -Wendy R.


❤️ "This is an amazing resource! I am so thankful I found it! I love that it includes IEP goal ideas and breaks instruction down into steps that kiddos can have success with! I've never found anything like it in my 15 years as a special education teacher." -Amber M.


❤️ "This is what I have been searching for to help my students with disabilities understand word problems. Love this resource, wish I had found it sooner!" -Jill S.


❤️ "I am very grateful for this resource. I have been using it with my student with a severe learning disability with great success." -Vanessa M.


❤️ "This is the best step-by-step guide I have found for story problems. Very straight forward!" -Christina G.


Lessons Are Tied to This First Grade Math Standard:

  • Use addition and subtraction within 20 to solve word problems involving situations of adding to, taking from, putting together, taking apart, and comparing, with unknowns in all positions (CCSS 1.OA.A.1)


View More Addition and Subtraction Workbooks


📘 This resource is also found in these discounted bundles:


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Watch a video overview of Step-by-Step Math to Mastery or read the transcript here.

Step-by-Step Math to Mastery™ Resources:

Make math easier to understand.

  • Help students over math hurdles with clear, sequential, scaffolded lessons.
  • Prevent overwhelm. Build student confidence.

Make math easier to teach.

  • Save hours of planning and piecing together materials.
  • Paraeducators can deliver quality instruction independently. Open & teach.


Reasons You'll Love Step-by-Step Math to Mastery™ Resources

  • Boosts student confidence and progress
  • Lightens teacher workload
  • Time-saving: print and teach
  • Easy prep: only black ink is needed
  • Easy to teach, paraeducator-friendly
  • Example IEP goals and shorter term objectives
  • Consistent & predictable format
  • Lots of practice repetitions
  • Scaffolded with structured workspaces
  • Fewer problems on a page, white space, minimal visual clutter
  • Tied to standards
  • Explicit/Direct instruction
  • Systematic & sequential
  • Mastery approach--teaching one topic at a time, one strategy at a time
  • Lessons have "I Can" statements, model problems, guided practice, & independent practice
  • Each workbook can be used individually as a stand-alone intervention for that skill or they can be used together, taking students from the basics of number sense and addition in first grade all the way to dividing fractions and decimals in fifth grade.
  • Can also be used with older students (middle & high school) to help fill the gaps in their learning.


About the Author

Hi! I am a Special Education & Title 1 teacher interested in task analysis. My resources break tasks into small and explicit steps, reducing cognitive load for learners so they can feel successful and confident rather than overwhelmed and reluctant to try. I strive to lighten the workload of teachers by making resources as practical and easy-to-use as possible. I sincerely hope my work can benefit you and your students.

I appreciate your support and feedback.


Terms of Use

Copyright © Angela Dansie, All rights reserved. This product is to be used by the original purchaser for single class use only. You may not put this product on the internet where it could be publicly found and downloaded. Copying for more than one teacher, classroom, department, school, or school system is prohibited. If you want to share this resource with colleagues, please purchase additional licenses. Failure to comply is a copyright infringement and a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Clipart and elements found in this PDF are copyrighted and cannot be extracted and used outside of this file without permission or license. Intended for classroom and personal use only.

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