Lesson plan

Subtraction Stories

Let’s make subtraction real! In this lesson, students dive into three-digit subtraction by solving real-world word problems.
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Students will be able to solve word problems involving three-digit subtraction.

(5 minutes)
  • Begin by telling students you are going to share a subtraction story.
  • Ask students what they think a “subtraction story” might be. Take a few answers.
  • Explain that a subtraction story is a real-world situation where subtraction is used to solve a problem or come up with a solution.
(10 minutes)
  • Tell students the following subtraction story: Mario had 384 leaves in his backyard. He raked 142 leaves. How many leaves were left in the backyard?
  • Write on the board 384 - 142 = ___. Explain that you’ll need to figure out how many leaves were left when 142 was subtracted from 384.
  • Solve the problem, explaining the steps you took aloud.
(10 minutes)
  • Now tell students it’s their turn to solve a subtraction story.
  • Tell students the following story:
    • Kelly had 673 beads in her bead collection. She made jewelry for her family using 371 beads. How many beads did Kelly have left?
  • Have students turn to a partner and work together to solve the problem.
  • Take a few answers from the class.
(20 minutes)
  • Hand out paper to each student. Tell them to write three subtraction stories for a partner to solve. The subtraction stories should involve three-digit numbers.
  • After students are done writing the stories, they should switch papers with a partner.
  • Have students solve each other’s subtraction stories.

Enrichment: Have students create and solve subtraction stories that involve regrouping.

Support: Have students create and solve subtraction stories that do not involve regrouping.

(5 minutes)
  • Assess students’ understanding by observing both how they write and how they solve subtraction stories.
(5 minutes)
  • Call on a few pairs of students share their stories and answers with the class.

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