Struggling with Subtraction?
Subtracting is so much harder to teach than adding since there are more basic subtraction facts to master that have no obvious system and memorizing math facts is extremely difficult for some students.
- Subtracting zero.
A number minus zero is the number. Always exaggerate an example: a trillion minus zero is a trillion.
- Subtracting one.
A number minus one is the previous number on the number line. You may have to have them practice counting backwards to master this one. (sample worksheet)
- Subtracting two, three, and four.
Use the "touch math" method so the students can count-down using the points on the numbers. Try to find a font that shows the four with four ends. (Go to our subtract 2, 3 & 4 worksheets.)
- Subtracting nine.
Use 'magic nine'. To subtract nine from basic minus facts, just add the top numbers together by putting a little plus sign in between the top numbers. (This works because it is part of the math ladder method.)
eg., 14 - 9 = (1 + 4) or 5. (subscribed members go to our magic nine worksheets.)
- Subtracting ten.
Subtracting ten has a system, you just bring down the one's digit in the top number.
eg,. 17 - 10 = 7 (sample worksheet.)
- Subtracting doubles.
Tell them that subtracting is just "adding upside down".
eg., For, 16 - 8 say, "What plus 8 equals 16?" (subscribed members go to our subtract doubles worksheets.)
- Subtracting the rest using the math ladder.
Use the math ladder. Take the bottom number and subtract it from ten, then add it to the ones digit of the top number.
eg., 16 - 7 = (10 - 7 = 3) + 6 = 9.
(subscribed members go to our math ladder worksheet series.)
(This is the best method to use with older students — they will become as quick at using this method as someone who can simply memorizes the math fact.)
Count Down: For subtracting 1 thru 4, they should count-down using the points on the lower number.
Magic Nine: Use 'Magic Nine', simply add the top two numbers together. eg., 17 - 9, add 1 + 7 = 8.
Math Ladder: Use the Math Ladder method.
eg., 15 - 7 = ?
Students subtract the bottom number (7) from 10
10 - 7 = 3
add that number (3) to the one's digit of the top number (15).
3 + 5 = 8 (3 is added to the 5 because it is the one's digit in the top number),
since 3 + 5 = 8, then 15 - 7 = 8.
The Math Ladder is a little complicated to explain but a great tool. 'Magic Nine' works because it is the math ladder method.
No Longer at a Standstill with Subtraction
See our Teaching Resources for Math for Subtraction worksheets, lesson plans, etc.
- Our teaching subtraction math worksheets use proven techniques to help struggling students learn math concepts.
- Our practice subtraction math worksheets and
- Our practice addition and subtraction worksheets are carefully designed to progressively help students advance their math skills.
Return to Math Skills Index.
Subtraction • Subtracting Stress from Success!
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