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Joining Together: Little Pigs

Use a School Readiness Activity to provide early mathematics thinking experiences for preschool children that will prepare them to do well in the early grades.
Mathematics (5,300)

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Joining Together: Little Pigs

  • To join (add) sets of objects
  • To use "act it out" as a strategy for solving problems

Paper "house" rectangles, pink "pig" circles, bowl
Prepare paper cutouts ahead of time.

Literature Suggestion
Read The Three Little Pigs by James Marshal, or another book that has examples of joining or adding.

how many
putting together

Ask children to recall The Three Little Pigs. How many pigs were there? (3) Show 3. (Children hold up three fingers.)


  • Children will use the strategy of "act it out" to understand the meaning of joining, or adding, 1 more. Tell children that they are going to act out part of The Three Little Pigs. Invite three children to be the three little pigs and place them in different "houses" in the room.
  • Ask the first little pig to walk to the house of the second little pig. Help the group notice that 1 and 1 more are 2. Ask, "How many pigs were in the first house?" (1) "How many were in the second house?" (1) "How many are in the second house now?" (2) Ask the 2 little pigs to walk to the house of the third little pig. "How many were in the third house?" (1) "How many joined him?" (2) "How many now?" (3) Help the group say that 2 and 1 more are 3.
  • Have a different set of three children repeat the activity. Start number sentences for children to finish, such as, "1 and 1 more are _______________________."
Provide each group with paper rectangles for houses and a bowl of pink paper pigs (or pink paper circles). Invite children to help you recall the story and to act out the story with the paper cutouts. Ask the children to show 1 pig in 1 house, 2 pigs in 1 house, and 3 pigs in 1 house. Help children notice and say that 1 and 1 more are 2; that 2 and 1 more are 3.

Observation Assessment

  • Proficient - Child can show and tell that 1 pig and 1 more pig are 2 pigs, and that 2 pigs and 1 more pig are 3 pigs.
  • In Process - Child can show 3 pigs but has difficulty showing that 1 and 1 more are 2 and that 2 and 1 more are 3.
  • Not Yet Ready - Child does not yet show 3 or use manipulatives to show joining.

Excerpted from

School Readiness Activity Cards
Pearson Early Childhood
Excerpted from School Readiness Activity Cards. The Preschool Activity Cards provide engaging and purposeful experiences that develop language, literacy, and math skills for preschool children.

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