This problem involves repeated addition which is a prelude to multiplication. It can lead to counting by threes.
Mother Bear is making her 5 bear cubs new coats. The coats have 3 buttons each. How many buttons does Mother Bear need?
- Read the problem to the class.
- Ask the students to identify the important information in the problem – highlight these.
- Brainstorm for ways to solve the problem.
- If they suggest drawing a picture encourage them to think about the details required in the drawing to solve the problem. It is common for young students to "get lost" in the details of their drawings and lose focus on the problem.
- Let the students solve the problem in pairs. As they work encourage them to explain what they are doing.
- Share solutions.
Extensions to the problem
If there are seven bear cubs in the family how many buttons would Mother Bear need to buy?
If Mother Bear has bought 24 buttons, how many coats, each with three buttons will she make?
Other contexts for the problem
Triceratops and horns (3 horns per dinosaur)
Wheels on tricycles
Insect bites (3 bites per student)
The students may be able to skip count in threes to 15 or may group the buttons into 5 groups of 3 and then count in ones to 15.
The students may be able to skip count in threes to 21 or may group the buttons into 7 groups of 3 and then count in ones to 21.
The students may make 8 piles of 3 buttons and state 8 coats.