HOW TO TEACH SUBTRACTION WORD PROBLEMS:
Teaching a concept to a child for the first time can feel daunting. Here’s a great process to follow:
 I do. You watch:
 Read the problem out loud, and solve it on your own. Make sure to explain your thought process to the student.
 I do. You help:
 Choose another problem. Read it out loud, but ask for the child’s help to solve it.
 You do. I help:
 Give them more responsibility. Read another problem, but have them solve it on their own. Help as needed.
 You do. I watch:
 Give them the full responsibility of reading and solving a problem. Have them explain what they did and why.
If, at any point, the child becomes confused, go back to a previous step. Now that you have a good process to follow, here are some specific tips for teaching subtraction work problems:
 Use manipulatives and/or pictures:
 Pictures and handson materials make the process of subtraction more concrete. Instead of talking about subtraction, the student gets a chance to see and even touch subtraction. When children are first learning to solve subtraction word problems it’s helpful for them to see what the words mean.
 Define vocabulary:
 Children may understand what 4 – 3 means but have no idea what “four minus three” means. That’s because numbers and words create their own language. Make sure students can identify the words in the problems that tell them what to do. Minus, subtract, less than, decrease, difference, take away all mean the same thing. Make sure to take the time to explain that to the student.
 Start slow:
 Give the student simple problems, and increase the level of difficulty as they show proficiency.
 Substitute if necessary:
 If the word problems they’re trying to solve are confusing, try to replace the objects in the problem with objects they’re more familiar with. (Ex. instead of grapefruit, subtract toys.)
HOW TO SOLVE SUBTRACTION WORD PROBLEMS:
There are different ways to solve subtraction word problems. Here are two:
 Read the problem, and rewrite it with math symbols (i.e. create an addition or subtraction sentence.) Then find the missing quantity.
 Read the problem and draw a picture to represent the problem (using characters).
KINDERGARTEN SUBTRACTION WORD PROBLEMS EXAMPLES:
1.) Marcie saw 10 butterflies in the yard and watched 8 fly away. How many butterflies were left in the yard?


 Let’s rewrite this problem with math symbols.
 Since Marcie saw 10 butterflies at the beginning, and then she saw 8 fly away, we can write 10 – 8 = ?
 The question mark should match up with the missing quantity from the question – “How many butterflies were left in the yard?”
 10 – 8 = 2, so 2 should represent the number of butterflies left in the yard. Does it? Yes it does, so we know that we wrote our math sentence correctly, AND we know that we got the correct answer.
2.) Sharon has 3 fewer apples than Jennifer. Jennifer has 4 apples. How many apples does Sharon have?


 Let’s solve this problem using characters.
 Jennifer has 4 apples – 🍎🍎🍎🍎
 Sharon has 3 fewer apples than Jennifer, so we need to take Jennifer’s apples and subtract 3 away.
 Jennifer’s apples: 🍎🍎🍎🍎
 Minus 1: 🍎🍎🍎
 Minus 2: 🍎🍎
 Minus 3: 🍎
 Sharon has 1 apple.