My best ideas come in the face of disengaged children.  That happened a few weeks ago.  The children were restless and I knew that my math lesson was a real yawner.   On a whim, I told the children to pull out their white boards and dry erase markers.

I demonstrated how to draw a plate, fork, spoon, knife and napkin AND six delicious meatballs.
Next, I told them:  “I invited you to my house and made dinner.  You each received six meatballs on your plate.  You ate two.”  They erase two meatballs and THEN write the math sentence:  6 – 2 = 4.   I model the first math sentence.  After that, I expect them to demonstrate their own understandings.  This is a great time to make notes on who has the understanding and who does not.
I continue my story:  “I offer you a wonderful roasted tomato basil sauce to put on your meatballs. ”  (The children draw sauce on the meatballs.)  You decide to try to eat one.  Only one.”

They erase one meatball and then write the math sentence.” I go on like this.

This great fun and the children beg to do it.   You can use it for both addition and subtraction stories.  I call them my Plate Stories because one little girl came to school one day and asked, “Mrs. Haughey, can we do the Plate Stories today?”  Brilliant!  Yes!