Here is one way to teach subtraction using simple story problems and small objects or “counters” like beans. The teacher tells some stories involving subtracting or “taking away” and uses beans to represent the objects. The students count out the beginning number of beans with her, and then count out with her how many are taken away or subtracted. Then they count the number left over.
I would like to show you today, how I teach subtracting using objects, to the student in my classroom. And, I use anything that I have more than one of. So, this, today we’re using beans. All right I say, boys and girls, today we are going to be subtracting, using our objects and I’m going to tell you a story. I am a lucky girl and I have five candy bars. Today our beans are our candy bars. So, let’s put five candy bars in my bowl. One, two, three, four, five. I have five candy bars, I was so hungry that I had to eat one of them right away. So, boys and girls if you eat one, do you put one in the bowl? Or, do you take one out? You are so smart. Today, we’re going to take one out because I ate it. It is gone. So, let’s count how many candy bars I have left. Okay, I have one, two, three, four candy bars left for another day. Nice job of counting. Now, my dog loves dog treats, and in the package, there are six dog treats. Six dog treats. So, let’s put six in our package, one, two, three, four, five, six. He is a hungry little monster, and he likes to eat them a lot. So, we are going to feed him two. He eats two. Now, do I add more to my cup to eat. Or, do I take away? You are right. If I’m eating them, I’m taking them away. So, let’s take out one, two. How many bones does he, or dog treats if you have left for another day? Let’s count them and find out. He has one, two, three, four. Now, did mine bone, my dog treats get smaller or larger? do I have more in my bowl, or less than, in my bowl than when I started? You are right, I have less in my bowl. Let’s go back out to my garden. Remember my garden from before? I had eight flowers in my garden. Let’s count one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. They were so beautiful and smelled so lovely, that I wanted them on the table while my family was eating dinner today. So, I went out and I picked three of them. Hmm, am I putting more flowers in my garden, or am I taking them away? You, are right. I am taking them away. So, let’s take away three flowers, one, two, three. Oh, by the way they looked lovely on my table. How many flowers are left in the garden? Let’s count them and see boys and girls. I have one, two, three, four, five flowers in my flower garden. That is wonderful. I love the way you counted today. And this is one way that I teach subtracting using objects, to the children in my classroom.