“Subtraction worksheets? Yuck!!!!!” Many parents have heard this complaint from their children, who want to avoid math homework or tutoring. Some alternatives exist to subtraction worksheets, including innovative online tutoring programs in which kids learn math without much-written work. However, most students can’t avoid worksheets at school and as homework, so finding ways to enjoy them, or at least tolerate them, will reduce the number of protests from your kids.
Here are four ways to have fun with subtraction worksheets:
1. Fun themes
Your child’s teacher might already assign themed worksheets. For example, in October, a page of subtraction problems could include outlines of ghosts and pumpkins to color or word problems based on Halloween. Older kids might not be impressed, but younger kids often respond to these themes and are subsequently more willing to do the work. If you are using subtraction worksheets for practice at home, you can find these themed pages from various sources on the Internet for free.
You will need a bag of M&Ms, or Skittles, or any other sort of small candy for this activity. Look at your child’s worksheet and circle a few of the equations (maybe every 10th, for example). These are special problems in which he can use the M&Ms to figure out the answer instead of a pencil. When your child gets the equation right, he writes down the answer and gets to eat the candy. Obviously, this works better with smaller numbers (you want your child to be rewarded, not get sick from a three-digit answer), but the incentive to get to the 10th problem because a little candy awaits will make the nine previous equations seem less of a chore.
3. Math minutes
Print out several copies of the same worksheet and get a stopwatch. Say go, and see how many problems your child can solve in a minute. The next day, give them the same worksheet and see if they answer more questions correctly. Keep doing this until they can get the whole worksheet correct within a set time for three consecutive days. This activity can be amended so that your child is solving a whole worksheet and you are timing how long it takes.
4. Create your own subtraction worksheets
You aren’t creating the worksheets in this scenario—your children are. Have them come up with 10-20 problems on their own, with an answer key, that you can then type out to make it look official. A few days later, give the worksheet (and answers) to your children to complete. They shouldn’t complain that it’s too hard because they devised it. And they will come away from the experience knowing they were in control of the math on the worksheet rather than trudging through what they were assigned.
How does your child enjoy subtraction worksheets?