Lesson plan

Subtraction Card Sharks

Make math fun with this lesson that has students work together to solve subtraction sentences. Students will also get a chance to practice their skills individually with a worksheet.
Need extra help for EL students? Try the What's the Difference? pre-lesson.
EL Adjustments
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Need extra help for EL students? Try the What's the Difference? pre-lesson.
  • Students will be able to increase their subtraction fluency rate as they practice their subtraction facts to 10.
The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
EL adjustments
(5 minutes)
  • Explain to the students that they will continue to practice their subtraction skills while playing an exciting card game.
  • Remind the students that when they subtract, they are taking away.
  • Ask them what number they write first when composing a subtraction sentence.
  • Follow up by asking them what sign comes next, then the number and the equal sign, and finally the answer.
(15 minutes)
  • Choose two students to come up and select a card from the deck.
  • Let the students read the number on their card then show the cards to the class.
  • Write these numbers on the board.
  • Ask the students which number they should write first when writing a subtraction fact. Write that number on the board.
  • Encourage the students to tell you what to do next. They should respond by asking you to put in the minus sign.
  • Continue until the entire subtraction sentence is on the board with the answer.
  • Read the sentence together.
  • Select two more students to choose cards.
  • Continue in a like style until the students have a good understanding of how they are to complete this activity, at least 3-4 more times.
(10 minutes)
  • Place the students in groups of 4-5 members.
  • Give each group a deck of cards. Make sure the face cards and jokers have been removed.
  • Explain to the students that they will play the same game as they did in the practice.
  • Create a chart with the steps to play the game:
    1. Player A chooses a card.
    2. Player B chooses a card.
    3. Both players write a subtraction sentence with the numbers.
    4. Both players read the subtraction sentence out loud.
  • Go over the rules of writing a subtraction sentence.
  • Each group should decide which two members will select a card first.
  • On their dry erase board, let them write the two numbers in a subtraction sentence.
  • The group should work together to find the answer.
  • Circulate the room checking to be sure the students understand what they should be doing.
(15 minutes)
  • Pass out the Color by Simple Subtraction worksheet, as well as markers, crayons, or colored pencils.
  • Ask students to complete the worksheet, and tell them to color the fish according to the key at the top of the page.

Enrichment: Give advanced students number cards to 20, and have them work independently to create subtraction facts in the same manner as when they worked in groups. They will select two cards and write the subtraction fact in their math journals.

Support: Place struggling students in small groups, and work with them to improve their ability to complete the subtraction activity.

(10 minutes)
  • Collect the worksheets.
  • Grade them to check for student mastery.
  • Reteach those who seem to have struggled with the worksheet.
(5 minutes)
  • Pass out exit slips to the students.
  • Have students write their name on the slip, then draw a happy face if they are sure they understand how to subtract or a sad face if they still need assistance.

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