5 – 7

Subtraction

Top tip

Subtraction

What to do with this activity?

"Subtraction" is a big word that at this age might sound complicated. Show your child that it's simply about "taking away" things, and that things are represented by numbers. Use items you have in your home, like apples, or smarties, or pieces of lego. Get your child to count and lay out a certain number of items, then ask them to "take away" some. Encourage them to count out loud, and show them how to write the numbers down as a sum. 

For instance, get them to lay out 12 items and write the number 12 down on a page. Ask them to "take away" or "subtract" 5 of those items, and to count how many are left. Then show them how to write that down as a sum "12 - 5 = 7". The minus sign just means "take away" or "subtract".  Show your child that subtraction is the opposite of addition. Using the same items as before, show them that if they add 5 items to 7 items it makes 12 (5 + 7 = 12).

Keep it simple until they understand how subtraction works, then encourage them to do it all on paper. If they need, they can draw a small upright line to represent each "thing" and cross out the required number of lines to see what's left. 

  • Why am I doing this?

    Children learn numbers and maths in a natural way through play and everyday activities. It’s different to school and should always be fun and practical – that way your child will enjoy working with numbers.

    Your child also develops a sense of patterns and what time means in everyday life. This is important for helping your child to manage everyday activities – going places, how long they have to wait and understanding when things will happen in the future.

  • How can I do more?

    Talking about numbers helps your child’s fluency in counting, estimating and understanding numbers and money in everyday life. It takes time for children to understand addition and subtraction so use objects when helping them understand this or when doing their homework.

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