Subtraction can be a difficult concept for children to understand, but with the right guidance they can quickly understand and perform simple subtraction. By using the methods below, most children can understand the concept of subtraction from about the age of five years old and younger.
How to start teaching how to subtract – foundation stage to year 2
Get down on the floor and play, that’s the best way to teach subtraction! Forget worksheets until they understand the concept.
Use pasta, toy cars, toy soldiers or any other objects you have to hand. Depending on the child’s age put out a certain amount of objects and let them experimnet with taking away a certain amount. So for example, tell them to stand 7 toy soldier up and then tell them to take away two.
Use the correct terms – make sure they are familiar with the terms subtraction, take away, the difference, more or less means . They soon get used to the terms, but if you don’t use it them they will not become familiar with the terms. The more you use them the more familiar they become. Introduce one term at a time, so as not to confuse them. Start with take away.
Subtraction questions you can discuss and ask your child- how to subtract!
1- “You have five soldiers and I have three. If I give you one of mine how many do I have left?” You can then go ahead and perform the task.
2-” You have five soldiers what would happen I were to take two away and put them in the toy box, how many would be left?” or” Who has more and who has less”
3:” Let’s pick up as many toys as we can. How many do you have? If we both take two away and put them in the toy box, how many do we have left each?”
More Fun subtraction games to play at home and teach how to subtract:
1: Bowling. Make bowls from one litre bottles. You can use a tennis bowl or small football. You can have how ever many depending on the ages of children. Each
child has two hits each and then they have to subtract the number they knocked down from total.
2: Use large dice.Give them three dice. They roll two dice and write that number down. Then rolls one die and takes the smaller one away from larger one. You can also do this with two dice, depending on their ability.
3: Large playing cards. They select two cards and take the smaller number away from the larger number.
4: Dominoes. Select a domino and then take the one with the least spots away from the one with the most spots.
5: Make a subtraction food story. Purchase some fruit , crisps or sweets. Tell them a story about John who had four pieces of banana and then ate one. Let them eat the one piece of banana. “How many does he have left?” Remember to choose soft fruit that children will not choke on – grapes and nuts are not ideal. Another example, “Anna had five chocolate buttons she gave 3 to Nina, how many does she have left?”
How to subtract by counting up - some children will find this easier-
Watch this counting up video
Once you have developed a good understanding of subtraction you can move on to more abstract subtraction. I thnik counting backwards is more difficult than counting forwards. Instead of getting them to count backwards when subtracting, get them to find the difference by counting up 9 – 4= , is the difference between 9 and 4. All they have to do is find out by counting up to 4 from 9, how much the difference is. So get them to put the four in their head and then count 5, 6, 7, 8 , 9 on their fingers and they will see they have five fingers up so the difference is five. You can use pasta to do this. Place the pasta on top of each other - one row of 9 and one row of 4. They will immediately be able to see the difference between the two. They can then count how many more is in the nine row.
Should look like this, but with pasta. So now they can see an extra five on the nine row. You can also use an abacus show subtraction.