Kindergarten is a year full of opportunities for exploration, learning, and growth. As your child becomes familiar with number recognition and counting, she’ll move to more complex ideas like addition and subtraction. Her first experiences with number manipulation form a foundation of understanding that will be built upon for years to come. While many kids pick up addition rather quickly, subtraction requires more practice. Support your child at home with fun, hands-on activities to help your child succeed with kindergarten subtraction.
Roll the Dice
Supplies needed: Pair of dice, paper and pencil or marker with erasable board
Procedure: Roll both dice. Determine which number is largest. Write and say a subtraction sentence, always putting the highest number first. Determine the difference, using the dots on the dice to help. Take turns and repeat.
Supplies needed: Set of cards number cards 1 to 10. Set of 10 counters (plastic figurines, cotton balls, paper clips, anything you have on hand)
Procedure: Mix up the number cards, placing them face down. Draw one card. Place that number of counters in the middle of the playing space. Create a -1 subtraction sentence and figure out the difference. For example, if the number 8 was picked, your child would say “8-1=7.” Draw another card and repeat.
*Variations: As your child improves, you can subtract 2, 3 or more. You can also add numbers 11-20 to the deck depending on skill level.
Supplies needed: A set of objects for counting such as blocks, legos, figurines, animals, etc. (get creative!)
Procedure: Cater your subtraction stories to your child’s unique interests whether he or she is interested in spiders, soldiers or princesses. Create a subtraction story, using the counters as the main characters. Example: “Once there were five beautiful princesses (place five characters in front of you). Four of the princesses went to bed (hide four princesses). How many were left? (count the remaining princesses). Repeat several times, then ask your child to create her own subtraction story.
*Variation: Say and write the subtraction sentence each time.
Supplies needed: Flyswatter, set of number cards 1-10 (or higher)
Procedure: Place three number cards in a line face-up. Say a subtraction sentence where one of the three cards is the difference. Ask your child to swat the answer. Repeat.
Supplies needed: Blank 5×5 grid, bingo chips (o-shaped cereal, cotton balls, pennies), set of number cards, 0-20
Set-up: Prepare the bingo grid by writing BINGO across the top and one subtraction sentence in each grid space. You can mark the center space as “FREE” if desired. Choose subtraction sentences your child is familiar with.
Procedure: Draw and call a number (a subtraction difference) from the card pile. Ask your child to find the subtraction sentence on her grid that corresponds with the difference called. When she fills in a complete row, horizontal, vertical or diagonal, she can call Bingo!
Any of these games can be adapted to suit your child’s level of understanding. They can also be adapted for addition practice. If you’re looking for additional ways to help your child achieve kindergarten subtraction success, Thinkster Math is an instructor-led math tutor app for your iPad that takes the guesswork out of helping your child succeed in math. You can easily access the app wherever you go, helping your child master kindergarten subtraction while staying motivated and positive.