Math Activity with Ten Flashing Fireflies

Based on the counting book Ten Flashing Fireflies, this FREE Firefly addition activity helps Kindergarten students practice adding on 1 and 2. This is a great way to start teaching Kinders simple addition strategies as they begin building math fluency.

Kinders are just starting their math journey and are learning so much about numbers and the way they work together. At this point in the year, you have probably given your students many opportunities to practice addition with manipulatives.

Things like

These fantastic games introduce children to the concept of addition and we want to provide many opportunities for our students to practice in this fashion.


We know that moving and counting physical objects will help students find the correct answer to an addition problem. However,  it is not a very efficient way to find a total. Eventually, the time comes to help our students develop some addition strategies that allow them to add numbers without counting every object.

Today we will use a fun picture book, a simple activity, and some worksheets to focus on +1 and +2.

This activity is for students who can count groups of objects and have developed an understanding of one-to-one correspondence. As the students engage with this activity they will start to transition from counting all to counting on. We are going to keep it simple by limiting the activity to +1 and +2 facts!

addition strategies

  • When you add 1 to a quantity, the sum is the next counting number.
  • They can count forward starting at any number they have learned.
  • Addition is a joining or combining process.

This resource works well these Simply Kinder resources:


The counting book I have chosen is Ten Flashing Fireflies (by Philemon Sturges). A brother and sister collect ten fireflies; later, when the fireflies light begins to fade they let them go. It is a simple story with gorgeous illustrations and is the perfect springboard for exploring counting on as a strategy for adding one and adding 2.

Before Reading

Show students the cover illustration and invite some class discussion. Ask

  • What do you think this book is about?
  • Can you tell me what this glowing insect is?
  • I wonder what it would be like to hold one?
  • Tell about a time when you saw fireflies.

While you are Reading                                                                               

Invite the children to count along with you as the fireflies are added, to the jar.

addition strategies


Materials Needed

  • Printable file (below)
  • Cardstock
  • Copy paper
  • Laminator (optional)

Getting The Activity Ready

  • Download the free file (below).
  • Print the jar, fireflies and number cards onto card stock. You can choose to use the color version or black and white.
  • Laminate for durability if you wish.
  • Print both recording sheet onto paper.
  • Cut apart the number cards and fireflies.


  1. Shuffle the number cards and place face them down.
  2. Provide students with a Fireflies in a Jar recording sheet, the empty jar mat and 10 fireflies to use as they explore adding 1 or 2 fireflies to their jar.
  3. Turn over a card and read the number. Place that many fireflies in the empty jar.
  4. Students then add 1 firefly to the jar, record the new number of fireflies on their sheet and fill out the addition sentence.
  5. Students remove one firefly, so they are back to the original number and repeat the process with a second firefly.
  6. If you want to fill in the recording chart you will need to complete a new sheet for each number
addition strategies


  • If you are working with a group, have each child fill out one or two sheets until all the number cards have been used up.
  • If you are working with a single child, have them fill out a couple of sheets over a period of time (unless of course they want to do the whole lot at once.)


After students investigate and record their data about adding fireflies have group members share their results using the chart.

  1. Ask students to tell you the fewest fireflies that were in a jar.
  2. Start with that number and help students to record their data on the group chart. Ask children who started with that number to share how many fireflies were in the jar after they added 1 firefly and then 2 fireflies. Talk aloud as you record the numbers
  3. “You started with zero fireflies and then you added one firefly, so and you had one fireflies altogether, so 0 fireflies plus 1 firefly equals 1 firefly. We’ll write 0 + 1 = 1
  4. Do the same for adding 2 fireflies, recording 0 + 2 = 2
  5. Have students share their data to complete the chart, moving in order from the lowest number to the highest. Recording the data in order, from 0-8 fireflies, allows the patterns to emerge on your chart. Finish the activity by inviting discussion of the questions at the bottom of the sheet. Be aware that your students will be at different levels, so some of them will spot the patterns straight away, but others won’t see them yet.


What activities do you use to help your students start to develop addition strategies?



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addition strategies
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