**HOW DO YOU TEACH SUBTRACTION TO KINDERGARTEN STUDENTS?**

**Start with Counting**: Make sure the child can count backward from 10 (or more) before teaching subtraction.
**Use Manipulatives: **Manipulatives are physical items a child can see and touch. You can purchase things like counting bears or base 10 blocks. You can also use objects found in your home like toys, cups, or crayons. Asking a child, “What is 5 minus 3?” will mean very little if they don’t understand what minus actually means. Manipulatives will help greatly in this area.
**Introduce Vocabulary**: That brings us to the next point. When you use manipulatives you might start by laying 5 counting bears on a table and asking the child to count them. Then take 3 away and ask, “How many are there now?” Once they tell you that there are 2 left, say, “That’s two! Five minus three equals two!” Can you say five minus three equals two?” Introducing vocabulary in this way will help it stick.
**Use Visual Aids**: Pictures, number lines, and ten frames are other items that will help children visualize the concept of subtraction.
**Start Slow:** Teach subtraction by taking away only one. When a child can understand subtracting one, try subtracting two, three, and four. Don’t give children subtraction problems that start with a number greater than 10 at first. When they can count backwards from 20 you can increase the starting number.
**Practice, Practice, Practice:**
- Apply subtraction to real life. Ask them to count the people in their house. When someone walks outside, ask them, “How many are in here now?”
- Complete the worksheets on this page.
- Try subtraction story problems.
- When they’re solving a subtraction problem on their own ask them to explain what’s happening in their brain. Having them process things out loud will help solidify the concept in their mind. And if they’re doing something wrong you’ll be able to figure out what it is.

**WHAT ARE SOME KINDERGARTEN SUBTRACTION ACTIVITIES?**

**Addition Color by Number:** When children get better at addition it helps them better understand subtraction!
**Number Line Hop**: Create a human-sized number line on the floor (indoor – use masking tape, outside – use chalk). Call out a subtraction problem for the student to act out. (Ex: Start on 4 and take away 2.) To add a layer of fun make them subtract their spaces in different ways (hop 2, tiptoe 2, crawl 2).
**Subtract with Ten Frames**: Give a series of subtraction problems for students to represent using 10 frames. You could use two-color counters.
- Have the student place the first number of counters down in the frame. Make sure they are all turned to the same color (ex. all yellow).
- Flip the second number of counters over (ex. turn them to red).
- Have them count the number of counters that are still yellow to find the solution to their subtraction problem.
- Alternative idea: Laminate the 10-frame, and give the student a dry-erase marker. Have them color in the first number of frames, then erase the second number of frames to find the solution.

**Subtraction Bingo**: Create “bingo” cards with the solutions to subtraction problems in the squares. Call out subtraction problems, and have the students cover the correct solutions on their cards.
**Read Kindergarten Subtraction Books**:
- “The Action of Subtraction” by Brian P. Cleary
- “Elevator Magic” by Stuart J. Murphy
- “If You Were a Minus Sign” by Trisha Speed Shaskan

**Addition Free-Play**:
- Indoor: Give students a series of subtraction problems and something to build with, like legos or playdough. Have them build the subtraction problems to find the solutions.
- Outdoor: Use sidewalk chalk to draw subtraction problems outside. Combine this with one of the other activities above.

**WHAT ARE SOME FUN GAMES FOR TEACHING KINDERGARTEN SUBTRACTION?**

**Subtraction War**: Take a deck of cards and remove the face cards. Divide the deck evenly between two students. Have each student flip two cards and subtract them. The student with the higher answer gets all four cards. Keep playing this way until one person has all the cards or set a time limit.
**Roll, Write, and Subtract**: Give each child two dice and a sheet of paper. Have them roll the dice and write a subtraction problem on their paper. Solve it and do it again!
**Fill the Cup**: Give each student a cup and several objects such as bear counters or craft pom poms. Call out a subtraction problem. Have them write down (or tell you) the solution and put the corresponding number of objects in their cup. Continue until their cup is full.
**Subtraction Bowling**: Set up a bowling game, and label each pin with a number. (Add up the numbers on all the pins and post it somewhere visible.) Have the student roll the ball and subtract the numbers on all the pins that were knocked down from the posted total. Depending on the numbers you use, this could be a good option for younger students as well as older.

**WHAT ARE SOME HANDS-ON MATERIALS FOR TEACHING KINDERGARTEN SUBTRACTION?**

**Counting Bears**
**Base 10 Blocks**
**Two-Color Counters**
**Ten Frames**
**Number Lines**
**Math Manipulative Kits**: These will frequently include many, if not all, of the items listed above.