Subtraction Math Ideas for Kindergarten

Flash cards are useful for review of math facts.
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Subtraction is a math skill that is not always easy for kindergarten students to comprehend. Most teachers begin subtraction instruction after addition, which is a logical procession. However, it is not always easy for 5-year-olds to switch their thinking to "taking away" when they have been focusing on the opposite skill. If your child is in kindergarten, help him at home with various activities to help reinforce what he's learning in the classroom.

1 Instruction

Kindergarten teachers use various instructional methods to help their students understand subtraction. You can use these strategies at home too. Number lines are effective for showing your child that subtraction can be calculated by counting backwards. You can also show your child how to write dots or tally marks to represent the top number in a subtraction problem and look at the bottom number to know how many to cross out, which will give him the answer.

2 Manipulatives

Kindergarten teachers rely on manipulatives to help their students understand mathematical concepts. These are objects that provide a visual aid that corresponds with the skill. To teach your child subtraction, use plastic unifix counting cubes or interlocking toy blocks. Write a problem on paper like 5-2. Demonstrate how to look at the first number and connect that many cubes. Then disconnect the amount of cubes that represent the second number of a subtraction problem. Count the remainder of cubes locked together, which will be the answer.

3 Literacy

Combining reading and math is a teaching strategy often used in kindergarten. You can read a book containing numbers like "Five Little Monkeys," a story about five monkeys that fall from a tree one by one. After you read each page, write a subtraction fact that corresponds with the number of monkeys that are left on the tree. For example, begin with 5-1=4. The last fact will be 5-5=0.

4 Games

Learning games are usually popular with kindergarten students. Games break the monotony of regular instruction and are a fun way to learn. There are many subtraction games online that you can teach your child to play. Many are interactive with animated sounds and pictures that will hold your child's attention.

Karen Hollowell has been teaching since 1994. She has taught English/literature and social studies in grades 7-12 and taught kindergarten for nine years. She currently teaches fourth grade reading/language and social studies. Hollowell earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Mississippi and her Master of Arts in elementary education from Alcorn State University.