Although subtraction is a relatively easy math concept to learn,
there are at least 5 fun ways to learn subtraction. These fun ways
allow learning subtraction to be more enjoyable, instead of completing
the traditional mind numbing repeating worksheets. Most students find
that when the math problems are related to their lives, creative,
and challenging they will find not only can they subtract - they have
the ability to apply subtraction to many situations.
The first fun way is through the use of an online computer program
that uses virtual manipulatives by Utah State University. Their website
is designed to engage student critical thinking skills as they apply subtraction
concepts. An interactive activity is called color chips in which you
use different color chips to illustrate the subtraction of positive
and negative integers. This activity requires the students use their
problem solving skills to solve subtraction problems.
Another fun way to practice subtraction is to play baseball math.
In this activity the teacher draws a baseball stadium on the chalk
board from an overhead view. Students are divided up into teams. Each
team takes their turn coming to bat, solving subtraction problems.
The team not at bat waits for their turn to bat, since there is no
field to protect. Students are asked to solve a variety of subtraction
problems to get a base hit, once the team member gets a hit he/she
places at symbol or marker on first base. As long as the team is at
bat they get to continue placing runners on the bases and advancing
around the bags and scoring runs. Just like in baseball, 3 incorrect
answers equals three outs. Then the next team comes to bat. This is
a good way to review subtraction facts.
Variations of math baseball include: football, soccer, hockey, basketball,
softball, and other sports.
A third fun activity is playing subtraction Jeopardy. In this activity students
are given the answers and they have to come up with a subtraction
problem that results in the answer given. This is an excellent problem
solving interactive activity requiring the use of critical thinking
skills to develop these problem answers. It also makes a connection
to real world math situations for everyday choices when applying subtraction
math for shopping, sports, activities around the home, and choices
A fourth fun way to learn subtraction is by using paint by numbers
kits. Students get to paint each numbered part of a picture when they
solve an associated subtraction math problem. This teaches students
not only the how to solve subtraction problems; it also teaches them
how to use critical thinking and problem solving skills as they use
the paint by number set to learn subtraction. This type of fun activity
teaches them how to problem solve as they hone their subtraction skills
and make connections to situations in the real world.
A fifth way is to have a simulated store in the classroom that sells various
products, the use of empty containers and plastic foods allow the
store to be used more than once. This activity has only one way students
can purchase items, the total must result in a certain number or fall
within a certain number range to purchase the products.
This creates a problem solving situation in which students must have
a sound understanding of subtraction as it relates to other math concepts.
These include connections with addition, division, and multiplication.
And additional challenge can be by having the answers incorporate
The key aspect in all of these fun activities is students' minds
are engaged as they learn to solve and make connections as they subtract
numbers for applications in everyday life situations.