Subtraction Games and Activities

Subtraction Games.......... Before the Worksheets

Be able to answer subtraction problems (unlimited digits) in algorithm form with speed and accuracy.

Your child should be able to use a strategies to break these problems apart and quickly get an answer. One example:

72-19=..... I am going to round the 72 to 70 and the 19 to 20 and subtract them by counting backwards two groups of 10...that is 50. Now I take the extra 2 from the 72 and the 1 added to 19 and subtract them 2-1..I have 1 and I add 50+1 for 51.

I did this in my head. I could of just regrouped but, my strategy shows true understanding.

Give your child opportunities to explain how they subtract larger numbers, this in itself is fun.We take turns challenging each other. What is 41-35? Then my son might say the difference between 35 and 45 is ten- and the difference between 41 and 45 is 10 - 4 = 6).

Find large numbers as your driving or just out and about town to subtract together. The 76 gas station - 35 mph sign, subtract them.

Subtraction Games.......... Before the Worksheets

Choose an appropriate strategy and equation for story problems.

Traditionally, as parents we watch our children do homework and say "great job".


If we shift from congratulating our children for finding the right answer to focusing on congratulating them on using a great strategy to solve the problem, they will be equipped to answer all kinds of problems.

This is not hard....usually it takes just asking questions like:

" How did you go about that?"


" Where did you start?"


" What was your brain thinking when you answered that question?". (This one is my personal favorite)

It may take a bit of pulling but, just keep asking these types of questions and your child will get use to explaining their thinking. I always learn something when I ask my child to explain how they got their answer.

Encourage your child to look for key vocabulary words in story problems that signal it is a subtraction problem.

Subtract, difference, take away, less than, are not, remain, decreased by, have or are left, change(money problems), more

Subtraction Games.......... Before the Worksheets

Know how to write and use the addition equation/algorithm.

Finally, at this point your child should be able to physically write the traditional addition equation and answer. But remember that they can use any method they like to get that answer.

Have your child practice actually writing the algorithm and answer, this can be really fun because you can use so many things to write with and keep your child's attention.

Some examples:

1. ketchup packets at a restaurant
2. whipped cream on a plate
3. cheeze whiz on crackers
4. watercolors and paper
5. water on dry cement

Using crazy ingredients turns our simple subtraction games to messy addition fun!

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