(Free printable subtraction cards below)
Today I am continuing with my hands-on maths series (addition here, solving for the unknown here) with subtraction activities for hands-on learning. This (above) is what the “activity centre” looks like on my shelves. I would love to have it all spread out on individual trays but there is just not enough room. A simple plastic box and re-purposed desk organiser do the job and the children take out the materials they wish to use for the day.
You can use any materials you like but it is helpful if there is some way to clearly show that they have been subtracted or taken away. I have out wooden craft pictures that are turned over as they are subtracted, miniature fruit erasers that stand up and are then laid down as they are taken away, double sided 2-colour counters, Duplo blocks and some random plastic connecting pieces that clearly have 2 different sides. You can have the children physically move the pieces or put them in a separate container or some other method of showing that they are subtracted but I think it is good to be able to still see how many have been taken away as it helps with self-correction of errors.
The children choose one set of subtraction cards at a time to work on, beginning with the easier subtract 1 or 2 cards and then moving on to the more difficult combinations once they are able to do these without needing manipulatives. The aim is to have these basic maths facts committed to memory or so quickly worked out mentally that higher level mathematical skills based on them are not slowed down by having to work out the simpler steps. For your copy of my free printable subtraction cards click here: vertical-subtraction.)