Lesson plan

Spring Symbols Subtraction

In this spring-inspired lesson plan, students’ understanding of subtraction will blossom. They will use spring-related counters and visual models to assist their subtraction skills.
Need extra help for EL students? Try the More Subtracting Fun! pre-lesson.
EL Adjustments
Grade Subject View aligned standards

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Need extra help for EL students? Try the More Subtracting Fun! pre-lesson.

Students will be able to subtract within 10 using spring themed objects.

The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
EL adjustments
(5 minutes)
  • Have five students come as a group in front of the class.
  • Say, “Okay, we have five students up the front. If I only want students wearing a shirt/sneakers, etc. How many people are wearing shirts/sneakers? How many people wearing shirts/sneakers? How many should we take away from the group?” (Tip: Have at least two students leave the group, one at a time.)
  • Ask, “Does the group have more or less people?”
  • Explain that when we subtract from a group of people, the number of people gets smaller, (as the group went from five to three people.
  • Tell them, “Today we will talk about how we can use spring objects to help us subtract, or take away, correctly.”
(8 minutes)
  • Read the student objective with your students and restate that subtract means taking away from a group.
  • Use paper flowers from the Flower Count Color worksheet as counters to explain 4 – 2. (Tip: Tape them on the board and then cross off the flowers as you subtract one flower at a time.
  • Provide two more examples for the class (e.g., 7 – 4 and 9 – 3). Ask for assistance from the students.
(10 minutes)
  • Distribute the Let’s Practice Subtraction worksheet.
  • Read the directions with your students and complete the first two problems together. (Tip: Make a few mistakes on the second one and allow the students to correct them.)
  • Model how to cross off spring symbols in the first group based on the number of symbols in the second group of the Let’s Practice Subtraction worksheet.
  • Place the numbers of each group above the visual with a subtraction symbol between the numbers. Show the equation as derived from the visual.
  • Say, “We can use spring visuals like these flowers, eggs, and chicks in the worksheet to show how subtraction involves taking away from a group. A smaller amount is left over when we subtract, or take away.”
(2 minutes)
  • Instruct your students to complete the remainder of the Let’s Practice Subtraction worksheet on their own.
  • Answer any clarifying questions before releasing them to their assignment.


  • Provide paper flowers as manipulatives students can use with worksheet problems.


  • Have students subtract from 10 and then give them a die to figure out the number to subtract each time.
  • Challenge them to create their own equations starting with 10 (e.g., 10 – 5 = 5).
(2 minutes)
  • Gauge student understanding from their oral responses during guided practice. Student completion of the Let’s Practice Subtraction worksheet can be used as a formative assessment.
(3 minutes)
  • State, “We are going to think of the whole class as our group. If I wanted to take away seven students from the group, how many students would be left over?”
  • Challenge students to defend their answers and students that agree can give a thumbs up, and those that disagree show thumbs down.

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