Lesson plan

Animal Action Subtraction

Children love animals! Use this lesson plan to teach your students about subtraction. Show them how the numbers go down as they cross out the animals. Their action makes the numbers reduce!
Need extra help for EL students? Try the Fishy Subtraction Stories pre-lesson.
EL Adjustments
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Need extra help for EL students? Try the Fishy Subtraction Stories pre-lesson.

Students will be able to see that when they take away some from a group of things, the numbers reduce.

The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
EL adjustments
(5 minutes)
  • Tell your students that today they will be doing an activity about subtraction.
  • Explain that subtraction means taking away from a group of things.
  • Read the book Subtraction Action by Loreen Leedy.
  • Use some pencils to explain this concept, or draw some pictures on the board to show how the numbers reduce, or get smaller, when you take away some from the group.
(10 minutes)
  • Use the teddy bear counters to explain the concept of subtraction.
  • Lay out 5 bears in a row. Ask your students to count with you.
  • Take away 1 bear, and have your students count again. Continue until there are no more bears left.
  • Put the bears away, and take out the worksheet.
  • Read the instructions, and show your students how to cross out the number of animals to do the problem. For example, if the question is 6 –2, direct your students to cross out 2 animals from the group of 6 to answer the question.
(10 minutes)
  • Give each student a few teddy bear counters, and have them practice the concept you just explained.
  • Start with doing the same numbers first.
  • After a few tries, have your students continue on their own.
  • Before instructing your students to complete the worksheet, ask your students to put away the teddy bear counters.
(10 minutes)
  • Have your students work independently on the worksheet. Provide assistance if needed.


  • Draw your students' attention to the lighter and darker pictures in each row and the fact that numbers go down in subtraction.


  • For advanced students, instruct them to complete the problem without looking at the pictures. Give them some simple problems where they have to figure out the answers either mentally or by drawing lines and crossing out the required numbers.
(10 minutes)
  • Ask questions as you demonstrate the activity.
  • Observe if your students are able to answer correctly.
  • As they are working independently, check to see that they understand that numbers go down when they subtract.
  • Check the answers on the worksheet done by every student.
(10 minutes)
  • Do a quick review by asking a subtraction question, and have your students answer with the teddy bear counters.

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