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Kitchen Table: Subtraction A

Remember, I will use a variety of maths resources from school but also real-life items too. We don't expect you to have piles of counters, cubes or numicon at home - corks, stones and even pennies are just as good. So long as your child can pick them up, shuffle them around and count them yes.


Kitchen Table Maths: Subtraction 1

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In my first videos ('Subtraction 1' above) I am beginning to explore subtraction. I made a symbol called 'minus' (you can call it 'subtract' and 'take away' too) with 1 lolly stick as a horizontal line like this:  -


Subtracting means taking one number or amount away from another. When you subtract, the number before the minus sign will ALWAYS be larger than the number after. BIG before small. Watch to see what I mean.


Task: Can you show me some subtraction sentence starters? Remember, we don't need an = or an answer yet, I just want to see you PROVE you know our #1 subtraction fact: the larger number ALWAYS goes before the minus sign. Perhaps you could make lots of sentence starters using food piles in the kitchen, gravel in the garden or toy cars in your bedroom. You could even sneak in a few WRONG ones and ask a family member to answer true or false like I did in the video! Good Luck and I can't WAIT to see your photos and videos flooding into Dojo.



Don't forget, as with the addition sessions, I will start off using piles of concrete resources, then move onto pictures and, finally, be surrounded by numbers. There are no number looking numbers to see at this stage; we need to taste and say them before we see and write them. No jumping ahead!


Kitchen Table Maths: Subtraction 2

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Now we are ready to have a go with some hands-on subtraction. Still no written outcome, just follow the 3 simple steps:


MAKE IT (gather a handful of items - gravel/ toy cars/ marshmallows AND count how many there are)

TAKE IT (pull a few items away from the pile - how many did you take away?)

COUNT  (how many are left behind?)


Here is an example from my video:

12 bricks minus 4 bricks, there are 8 bricks left behind



Task: The best way to practise early subtraction is with subtraction stories. Have a go at building the stories below and then making up your own:

  • There were 8 teddies at a picnic, 3 teddies went to play football, 5 teddies were left behind.
  • 5 marshmallows were on a plate, Daddy ate 2, now there are 3 left.
  • Your turn! Do it and say it, no writing yet...


Kitchen Table Maths: Subtraction 3

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How did you get on with the last session? Did you manage to MAKE, TAKE and COUNT?


The next step is to use pictures (like our wonderful Numicon resource - download available below) AND numbers. Here is an example from my video:

9 bricks take away 4 bricks, there are 5 bricks left

9 - 4 = 5

Task: Remember, this time you are making your pile and taking from it, then writing a sentence underneath. Are you ready to begin? Just a quick reminder of the sentence signs you will need:

  -  minus

 =  equals




Kitchen Table Maths: Subtraction 4

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Did you see what changed here? Now that I have practised my subtraction so many times with real objects and learnt what to do, I can swap to using pictures instead. The pictures can't move, so we need to find another solution for showing how many items have been subtracted. Do the first one with me, so you know how:


MAKE it: the document below shows a variety of different items. Count how many raspberries there are.

TAKE it: the sentence beside the raspberries says "raspberries take away 8", so cross out 8 raspberry pictures.

COUNT: have a look at the raspberry picture now - count how many raspberries have not been crossed out. That is your answer as to how many are left.


Do you remember the numbers? When you write the number sentence it should look like this:

12 raspberriestake away 8, there are 4 left

12 - 8 = 4


We completed the whole subtraction without ever moving any real objects around, this is a whole new step! Who thinks they are ready to be set loose on their own?? Go for it! Happy subtracting yes.




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Our final session for this week is a QUIZMASTER CHALLENGE! Do you have what it takes to beat the quizmaster's questions?


Grab some:

  • counting resources
  • subtraction and equals signs
  • paper and a pencil
  • your luckiest socks!


It is time for the Question Quiz. 10 real-life subtraction questions plus 1 bonus round. Watch and listen carefully, then click pause between questions while you work out your answer. Take your time. Use your resources to help you MAKE, TAKE and COUNT. Then write the number sentences down too, using numicon as well if you like. Beat the quizmaster! Good Luck!! wink