Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I Know an Old Lady Who Gobbled Some Donuts!

Subtraction is one of my favorite concepts to teach to young children.  You get to take objects away and find out what is left.  What better way to help them understand the concept, than to feed donuts to an old lady.  Students are able to feed the donut manipulatives to the old lady and then move on to subtracting with a number line.  Check out "Devouring Donuts!" here.
Students will draw a subtraction sentence card and identify the largest number (minuend).  Students will place that number of donuts on the plate.  They will then feed the old lady the smaller number (subtrahend) of donuts to the old lady.  The difference will be the donuts left on the plate.
I created three different types of old ladies.  I first laminated and cut out the hole in the middle of the old lady's mouth.  I attached the old lady to a gift bag, a cereal box, and to a plastic tub.  I cut holes for the mouth in the gift bag and cereal box.  I used a razor blade to start the hole and then used scissors to finish.  I simply taped the old lady to the plastic tub. 
So easy and kids are able to actually "feed" the old lady!  I have included a recording sheet, where students will record the subtraction sentences that they completed.
There is also an anchor chart to help students remember the steps needed to subtract two numbers.
Learning subtraction on the number line is trickier.  Students are not actually taking the numbers away, but moving backwards on the number line.  I find it very helpful to provide students with a life size number line that they are able to actually move up and down.  It is wonderful for kinesthetic learners.
I included focus wands to help students really narrow their focus to a specific number.  The focus wand is also the old lady "eating" the donuts, so it helps make the concept a little more concrete.  Students will focus on two strategies for subtraction: "counting back" and "counting up".
I included an anchor chart to explain the steps for "counting back", when using a number line.  Students can refer back to the chart for help.  You can complete this activity as a whole group with the class number line and extend the learning, by letting each student use a personal number line. 
There is also an anchor chart for "counting up". 
I have included extension worksheets, where students demonstrate their understanding of "counting back" and "counting up".
I have also included many other extension worksheets to explore the concepts of equal numbers, greater than, less than, and solving subtraction sentences.  Here is an example of students finding the number that is smaller that the target number.  They will use a bingo dabber or crayon to color in the number that is smaller.  Students are able to use the number line and focus wand to assist them.
Another game that I love playing with the number lines and subtraction flash cards is "Eat 'Em Up", which is the same as the old game "War".  Students will play in pairs.  They will each flip a card at the same time, solve their subtraction sentence on the number line, and whoever has the largest difference "wins" the cards.  You can also play the same game with the large donut cards (from the number line).  Make a set for each student and they can explore the concepts of greater and less than.
I also wanted to share my "New Old Lady"!  She is much more durable than the cereal box old lady.  I used an Oxi-Clean box, which is much thicker cardboard.  I laid the old lady on top of the box and cut out the shape of the mouth.
Cut it out.
Covered in scrapbook paper.
Used Velcro to keep the top shut.
 Last, I hot glued the old lady to the box.  She is ready to go and SO durable.  Your kids can really "play" with this toy and it should survive. :)
Follow on Bloglovin
I hope you found some fun ideas!  I teamed up with Teaching Momster for her "Math Madness Wednesday".  Be sure to head over to her blog for tons of subtraction ideas!!


  1. What a great visual for teaching subtraction! Super cute too! :)

    1. Thanks so much! I had fun making it and playing it with the kids!!

  2. OMG that is super cute!!!

    1. Thanks so much! Thanks for taking the time to leave feedback! It made my day :)

  3. I love how creative you are with hands on activities! Great ideas, and so cute! Thanks for linking up.

    Teaching Momster

  4. Thanks, Krista! My husband calls me the "Queen of Containers"! I just love creating something fun out of junk :)
    Thanks so much for hosting the Math Madness Wednesdays! I love them :)

  5. I never thought I would read the sentence "I simply taped the old lady to the plastic tub" on an education blog. This looks like a fun way to work on subtraction!

    The Math Maniac

    1. This comment had me cracking up! Thanks so much for making me laugh out loud!! You made my day!

  6. Oh my gosh! This is so stinkin' cute! It makes me wish I taught primary grades!


Pin It