EL Support Lesson

Solving Subtraction Problems

How many ways can you solve the same problem? In this fast paced lesson all about subtraction your students will learn all about different problem solving strategies. Can be used as a stand alone or support lesson for the **Bugs Away** lesson plan.
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Bugs Away lesson plan.
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This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Bugs Away lesson plan.

Students will be able to subtract numbers 1-10.


Students will be able to explain to a partner how to find the difference when subtracting numbers.

(2 minutes)
  • Gather the class together for the start of the lesson.
  • Introduce the lesson by saying a subtraction equation as a story problem using objects. For example, "I picked three flowers from my garden, then I gave two of them to a friend. How many flowers do I have left?
  • Allow students to turn and talk to discuss how many flowers they think you have left prior to modeling how to solve the problem.
(5 minutes)
  • Model solving the problem while reviewing the vocabulary for subtraction. For example, "Subtraction means to take numbers away."
  • Review the differences between subtraction and addition by writing up an addition equation and saying, "Addition means to put numbers together."
  • Ask students to create a movement for addition and subtraction. For example, addition put hands together, subtraction put hands behind their backs.
  • Solve the same problem again, this time using a new strategy (e.g., number line). Explain to students that there is always more than one way to solve a problem. We call this using a strategy or a plan.
(5 minutes)
  • Write up a new subtraction equation such as 4 - 2 = ____ on the board.
  • Ask students to think-pair-share with a partner to decide how to solve the problem.
  • Create a subtraction strategy anchor chart (e.g., draw a picture, use a number line, use your fingers, count back, or use manipulatives) to refer to throughout the lesson.
  • Solve the problem with group input. Practice reading the equation as a group.
(15 minutes)
  • Display the Space Item Subtraction worksheet and go over instructions.
  • Have students work alongside a partner to complete their worksheets independently. When finished, ask pairs to think back on the lesson and their strategy anchor chart as they turn and talk using the following sentence starters, "I solved my problem by using ____. Something that was tricky for me was ___."


  • Allow students to count and solve problems in home langauge (L1).
  • Work in a smaller group to practice using the different strategies to solve the same problem.


  • Pair students together to explain how to solve a problem using one of the strategies listed on the anchor chart.
  • Provide opportunities for students to share their reflection and work with the whole group.
(5 minutes)
  • Collect student work samples to assess if they are able to accurately solve subtraction equations.
  • Listen to students discuss problem solving in pairs to assess their understanding of subtraction strategies.
(3 minutes)
  • Gather students back together as a group.
  • Ask students, "What is the difference between addition and subtraction?" Provide a sentence frame with the words (add/away) to support students as they share out the difference between addition and subtraction. For example, "Addition is when we ____ two or more things together. Subtraction is when we take something ____."

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