Math Background

Modeling and Recording Subtraction: Tips and Tricks

  • Use a variety of classroom objects as manipulatives. Let children use crayons, paper clips, books, and so on.
  • Make your own manipulatives by cutting out, or having children cut out, pictures from magazines and laminating them. Or have children draw pictures of a single item, such as an insect, a bird, or a tree. Then copy and laminate the drawings for use as manipulatives.
  • Have children draw background pictures on which subtraction stories can be modeled with counters. Backgrounds might include a tree, a park, a garden, a house, or a playground.
  • Have the class sing or chant rhymes like “5 Little Monkeys Jumping on a Bed,” “Roll Over,” or “5 Little Ducks,” which involve counting back by ones. Have children illustrate the song and the subtraction by holding up their fingers and putting down one at a time as the song progresses. Change the words to the songs so they start with a greater number (up to 10) and count back by twos.
  • Look for opportunities to use examples of subtraction in the classroom. When the class is divided into smaller groups, have children subtract the number of children absent from the group from the normal number in the group to find how many are actually there.

Houghton Mifflin Math Grade K