Subtraction Games and Activities for Kids

Teach Subtraction with Elementary Subtraction Games and Math Activities

teaching kids subtraction with subtraction games and activities
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Subtraction is the opposite of addition. Children need to grasp this basic concept when learning subtraction. Here are a few simple subtraction activities and math games to help child master subtraction concept easily.

In basic mathematical term, a child knows subtraction as “take away”, “minus” and “less than”. Use terms your child is familiar with when teaching subtraction.


Subtraction Games and Activities for 1st Graders and Beyond



Learn Subtraction using “less than” on a Number Line

number line to teach subtraction

Counting backwards is also a form of subtraction based on the concept of “less than”.

Draw a number line with markers on the line labeling value on each marker. Label the marker up to twenty, fifty or even higher, depending on the level of the child.

Throw a dice and determine a number. If the number is four, ask the child: what is four less than twenty ?

Use the number line to assist in backward counting to derive the right answer.


Find the Missing Number with Number Balance

Number Balance Equalizer tool is handy to teach kid solve equation using subtraction math concept. Solving equation such as 5 + ___ = 9 involves subtraction.

subtraction game using number balance

Hang a tile on marker 9 at one of the Number Balance Tool and a tile on marker 5 at the other end. Let the child find the missing number to balance. Practice subtraction skills using different number combination.

You may want to consider getting a Number Balance Tool This is a versatile tool to teach subtraction, addition and multiplication. I personally find it very useful for children to understand mathematics concept with the help of this tool. You can read up other parents’ reviews as well in Amazon.




Subtraction with Regrouping using Linking Cubes

Learning subtraction with regrouping is easier when kids are able to “see” how value from the tens place carry over to ones place value.

linking cubes for math subtraction games

To do 25 – 9, give the child two rods of ten cubes and 1 rod of five cubes. Draw a table with label tens and ones. Let the kids put the rods accordingly under the label. The two rods of tens should be under label tens and 1 rod of five under label ones.

To take away nine from the five under ones, transfer one rod of tens to ones. Take away 9 cubes from the 15 cubes under ones. The remainder will be 16 cubes; that is 1 rod of tens and 6 cubes of ones.

You can get Linking Cubes Linking Cubes here.


Using mathematics manipulative or tools with subtraction games and activities make it easier for kids to learn math.



Math Activities for Subtraction with Three Digit Number

Gather a few kids to play these activities.


1. Take Away One Hundred

You need a record card and three dices.

- Each player throws the dices to form three digit numbers.

- Minus 100 from the number formed.

- Play for about three rounds. Determine who has the smallest total after three rounds.


2. Find the Smallest

Make 3 sets of number cards from 0 to 9.

Shuffle the cards and each player draws 6 cards.

Arrange the cards into 2 sets of three digit numbers. Find the difference of the two numbers. The player with the smallest answer wins.


Learn subtraction within ten for Preschoolers

Take Away French Fries Game

Young children need to have objects to count when learning simple mathematical operation like addition and subtraction.

Take ten pieces of fries line them up on a plate. Tell your kid a number that is less than ten. Your child will count to a corresponding piece of fries based on that number. Let him eats each piece that correlates to the number thus spoken. Ask him how many are left after he has eaten. In this way, your child will learn subtraction after you ask them how many are left.


Minus and Color

Here is another game to boost a child’s subtraction prowess.

Take ten different colors in a crayon pack. Tag each color with a number. Draw a circle, square or whatever shape your child fancy. Cut them into portions. Each portion will contain a subtraction problem, which your child needs to solve.

Example of a subtraction problem is 5 – 2. Ask your child: What is Five Minus Two?

The answer should correspond to the numbers tagged on the crayons. When your child gets the answer, she can now choose which color from the crayons to use in each portion of the geometric drawing.




Teaching subtraction to kids with these subtraction games and activities can be done in the classroom or at home. Innovative teaching ideas and unique approach make learning math enjoyable for kids.


More math learning games and activities to teach mathematical operation:

Fun Math Activities

Math Card Games

Math Worksheets for Kids

Addition Games

Multiplication Games

Fraction Games


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