Learning to Subtract (-)

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Learning Objective

Clip to support understanding

  • recall number bonds


  • subtract multiples of 10 (such as 160 – 70) using the related subtraction fact, 16 – 7, and their knowledge of place value


  • partition numbers


  • The children will be taught to use the vocabulary involved in subtraction through practical activities and discussion e.g. take away, leave, how many left? , how many more to make __ ?


  • They will be taught to recognise differences in quantities in everyday objects and to find one less


  • Subtraction will be taught in practical contexts that relate to the children’s experiences using various concrete resources.
For example; I had 8 party bags and I gave away 7 to my friends at my party. How many party bags do I have left?


  • Children will be introduced to number lines and encouraged to visualise the calculation.



  • The children will be encouraged to relate subtraction to ‘taking away’ and counting how many are left. We ate 2 of our 4 cakes. How many cakes are left?


  • Using the number square to subtract


  • Children can begin to use numbered lines to support their own calculations


  • Next children use an empty number line


  • ‘Counting up’ using an empty number line


  • Partitioning to subtract


  • Subtracting in columns


  • Subtracting in columns with renaming (borrowing)

If the digit you need to take away is larger than the one above, you need to borrow. What you are actually doing is moving a ten across to the units. This is called renaming as you are changing a 4, for example, into 14.


  • Subtracting decimals


  • Subtracting decimals in columns


  • Subtracting fractions with visuals


  • Subtracting fractions with the same denominator


  • Subtracting fractions with different denominators


  • Subtracting mixed fractions