Introducing Subtraction {and a CHANT}

I was privileged to be able to introduce subtraction to a first grade classroom.  We had a very simple, but very effective lesson while I was there and I wanted to share it with you!

I started with the book The Action of Subtraction to get the students thinking about subtraction.  I love tying in literature any chance I can get!


After our story it was time for the minilesson.  We used these simple word problems that had pictures for us to use to solve.


I showed the class a subtraction word problem.  They each had a subtraction mat, 10 poms, and a small cup.  Students placed the beginning number in their square.  In this problem there are ten butterflies, so they placed ten poms in their square.

Slide03 1

Then we moved poms into the cup to show them being taken away.  Since four butterflies flew away, we placed four of the poms from the square into the cup.  Then, we wrote our subtraction equation.

Slide04 1

Here’s how that looked in action:


Using the dry erase pockets allowed us to do several problems together.  They wipe off so nicely and make for a quick clean up!


They were super focused during our minilesson!


After our minilesson we completed our Spin and Subtract mini-booklet.




Students spun to find how many objects to take away on each page.  They showed their work by crossing those objects out on their picture.


This class has come so far since the first time I visited in August.  I’m always impressed on how much more independent they are becoming!


During independent practice students completed a quick “How Many Now?” sheet.


I’m telling ya…I was so impressed with how hard they worked and how well they did!


Before I go, I wanted to share a subtraction chant with you!  You can grab the chant HERE

subtraction chant Watch the video below to catch the rhythm:

All of the activities mentioned in this post can be found in our 1st Grade Magic of Math Subtraction unit!  Click HERE to check that out!

Don’t want to forget this lesson?  Pin the image below to save for later 🙂



Hi, I'm Amy

Hey, y’all! My name is Amy Lemons and I am passionate about providing students with both engaging and effective standards-based Math and ELA lessons.


Sample a day of Rooted in Reading with these lesson plans and activities for Reading Comprehension, Vocabulary, and Grammar!

4 Responses

  1. I’ve also tried to join your blog and it doesn’t let me. I did check the spam folder and it wasn’t there. I also have a question to ask. I love your rooted in reading for 2nd but I teach first. If you aren’t going to make a first grade version who do you recommend to follow for something similar? Your advice would be greatly appreciated.