Sunday, April 22, 2012

Draw Your Thinking Please!

Why is subtraction such a struggle in kindergarten. We act out stories over the year and try to provide lots of valid experiences with this but even so, I get some outrageous answers. I would not dare do subtraction in my room without manipulatives of some sort. My students will love this worksheet because they get to draw the answer which helps to make this more concrete. This is when story mats really help them and sustain their interest. If you are a master at teaching subtraction please let me know what you do and here is this worksheet as my gift  for helping me.


Mrs. Plum said...

I actually used a primary balance to teach it -- and I did it algebraically! I had, say, 12 in the first bucket, and then 9 in the other. I'd say "how many do we need to take from 12 to make it balance?" The problem would then work out to 12-3 = 9.

Students really responded to the primary balance as being the equal sign and meaning a "balanced equation" -- which we talked about a lot -- and had no problem with subtraction that way.

KinderKiddies said...

I am a newbie and now follow your wonderful blog. Please stop by and visit me =)

Becca said...

Fran, I agree that subtraction is difficult. I teach addition as a concept of counting how many altogether. Then when it comes to subtraction you have to discuss "taking away" or giving something "up." My Kinders don't like to give away anything, they just like the putting together concept. :) Thanks for sharing. Rebecca

Sandra said...

I agree with Mrs. Plum! We use the scale and equabeam when working with subtraction, but also some of the students share during our number talks that they "counted up to the higher number."
When we work with the = sign, we don't always call it equal, we often substitute the words "the same as." I don't teach key words, but identify strategies by the student presenting it.
I'm interested in how others are presenting or working with subtraction!!!

Sprinkle Teaching Magic (Sheila) said...

The trick I use is bringing subtraction to life through acting. I print giant subtraction and equal signs and then we put on shows. The kids being apart of the subtraction equation seems to help drill the concept in. I have quite a few hams in my class so we laugh and giggle which makes subtraction fun!

Krysti said...

I am always amazed every year that our Kinders seem to understand Subtraction a little better than they do addition. We have 90% English Language Learners and I am not sure if that has anything to do with it. But, it seems like they can take items away from a group of items, easier then they can add two groups together. They just want to count each individual group. I always struggled more with subtraction and was so surprised the first year I taught Kinder and saw this happening. We just use lots of manipulatives and even use groups of children to demonstrate the concepts before moving to paper.

Nicole Steele said...

I agree students have trouble with subtraction because it is so much easier to count up than back. If you are reading story problems, too many words can be confusing.

I would use a lot of acting out, manipulatives, pictures, then number sentences. (concrete, pictorial, abstract).

With pictures draw how many you start with and cross out each object starting with the last one. This seems to help my little ones.

Amber said...

I love the idea of using a scale...will implement that this week! I'm not an expert by any means but we have a lot of luck with the use of a number line. Varying them....making them theme related has kept interest high...especially when I give them a small toy, eraser or candy (such as a Hershey kiss) to use with their number line. I'm sure you do that already. Good luck!

Mrs. Gorbe said...

I think part of the issue is many of the kiddos are developmentally READY for this. Just a sad side effect of NCLB and the push down of the curriculum..:( I do have a few who are , but most are still working on addition..

Lane said...

Even for first graders subtraction is such a difficult concept! I used bowling pins this year to kick off subtraction. It was very visual for many of my students. We also use touch points and manipulatives.

dratchford said...

Hi Fran,
First of all, I adore your blog! I am a follower.
Second, have you checked out kindergarten works blog post about subtraction using using ten frames?
It has worked wonders for me. I have taught my kinders several strategies (number line, drawing pictures, touch dots and ten frames. I spent time on each strategy then they use the one that works for them. They've done extremely well.

dratchford said...

Hi Fran! First of all, I love your blog!
Second, have you read kindergarten works blog post on subtraction using ten frames?

I taught my kinders several strategies thoroughly (number line, touch dots, and ten frames) then they choose the strategy that works best for them. They have done extremely well!

Heidi Butkus said...

Hi, Fran!
I love the idea of using bowling pins to teach subtraction! I'm going to have to try that! I like the one with the balance scale, too. Excellent suggestions!

My little ones always have trouble with worksheets that show a group of objects, and then show another group to take away. (Similar to the one you showed up at the top of your post.) They want to add those two numbers together! My kids do much better with just one picture- for example, a picture of five flowers in a vase. Then there would be an equation, such as 5 - 3 = _____. Most of mine would then understand to cross three of those flowers out and count how many are left. In my class, I find that the kids are more confused by the pictures than just an equation on the page! So I often create worksheets for them with just a picture of the minuend (the starting amount) and no picture at all of the subtrahend (the amount to be subtracted.)
Either that, or they would do better with a worksheet with a space for their own pictures, and no pre-drawn picture hints at all.
Yet most of the time, publishers create worksheets exactly like the one you posted, and I'm not sure why when the pictures just seem to make it harder for my kids, at least. What are your thoughts on this?
Heidi Butkus

Amber Van Vooren said...

This is my first year teaching Kinder and I am amazed with how well most of my kids understand addition and subtraction. I have taught a variety of ways they can solve these kinds of problems. I've taught them how to use manipulatives, a number line, drawing a picture, counting on or back, or using mental math. I even created a poster with picture clues to help them remember the different strategies. I make all materials and resources they need available, and they get to choose the one that works best for them. Since the strategies were simlilar for addition and subtraction it was really easy for my kiddos to apply them to either.

Many of my kids use a number line for subtraction and there are some who I only let use manipulatives. I also used a concrete to abstract approach to teach them so they had a solid understanding of the concept before using a strategy like counting back.

I just started following your blog and I am excited for all of the great ideas you have. :)

Mrs. L said...

I'm not a master. But I am really excited to use this with some of my kids. Thanks Fran!
Life with Mrs. L

Fran Kramer said...

I love this community so much. You help me all the time and raise the bar on learning. Some of these ideas I have used for years and some I have never even tried. Thank you for sharing your amazing thinking.

Rita Lynn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mrs. McElveen said...

I use two approaches when teaching subtraction. First of all - I model, model, model EVERY problem with some type of manipulative. I use the kids to help model to keep them involved. I also have a huge "minus sign" and huge "equals sign" for children to hold when acting out the problem. I have never thought of using a scale to teach subtraction - that is brilliant. Thanks to all who shared that little tip. We are right in the middle of subtraction right now. Please keep the great ideas coming!

:) Amy

Chrissy said...

My class has enjoyed using the number line, for addition and subtraction. Each child has one, laminated for durability. We also use a life-size number line to "jump" equations. The children get to use their bodies to jump forwards and backwards....another great way to get the wiggles out!

Thanks for the freebie!


Judy Lau said...

Hey Fran!
Just did a subtraction activity last week that the kids LOVED - we made subtraction buddies! I posted about it here: