A Class Book of Subtraction

Print Lesson


SWBAT represent and solve story problems by drawing pictures.

Big Idea

Kindergartners love to draw, color and share their work. In this lesson they are given the opportunity make a class subtraction story problem book by drawing pictures to represent the stories.

Daily Calendar & Counting Review

15 minutes

Each day we begin our math block with an interactive online calendar followed by counting songs and videos.

Calendar Time:

We do calendar on Starfall every afternoon.  This website has free reading and math resources for primary teachers. It also has a  “more” option that requires paying a yearly fee. The calendar use is free. A detailed description of Daily Calendar math is included in the resources.

Counting with online sources: Today we did counting practice to reinforce the counting skills. We watched two to three number recognition 0-10 videos (one to two minutes each) because some of my students students were still struggling with identifying numbers correctly in random order. We watched"Shawn the Train" and counted objects with him to refresh our memories on how to count objects to ten and to reinforce one to one counting. Since we have started the second quarter of the school year, we added to today's counting practice: counting to 20 forward and backcounting by tens to 100 and counting to 100by ones to get a jump on our end of the year goals.


Direct Instruction

10 minutes

I read a subtraction story to my students to start this lesson. 5 Little Monkeys, 10 Little Monsters, any counting book that counts down works.

As I am reading the book, I use my fingers to demonstrate the subtraction story problem on each page. I think aloud while I demonstrate on my fingers:

"There were 5 monkeys jumping on a bed (I hold up 5 fingers). One bumped his head (I put down 1 finger). Now there are 4 monkeys jumping on the bed.  There was 5 monkeys, I took 1 away and that is the same as 4 monkeys."

I follow this pattern each page of the story. I then ask the kids a series of questions:

"Did we add or subtract?"

"How do you know we were subtracting?"

"How did you know what numbers to use when you were subtracting?"

My students had a variety of answers to the questions, but they were on-target with understanding subtraction. I chose students randomly

Guided Practice

10 minutes

For guided practice I have helpers pass out whiteboards, dry erase markers and wipes to each student. The students are told to keep their hands in their laps and leave all the materials on the floor in front of them until asked to use them. Anyone not following these directions are given a pencil and paper and asked to sit at their desk instead of using a marker and whiteboard. Using the whiteboard and markers is a privilege and the kids are expected to respect that.

I make up simple story problems and have the kids practice drawing them out on their white boards with my guidance.

Me: I'm going to tell you a story and you are going to draw out the story. This time, instead of drawing dots like we have been for our other lessons, we are going to draw the actual objects. So, if the story is about bugs, you will draw bugs. If it's about flowers, you will draw flowers.

First story - There are 2 ladybugs climbing sitting on a flower. Everyone draw 2 ladybugs. You do not have to draw the flower if you don't want to. You have two minutes to draw (I actually set a timer or some kids will take all day to draw 2 bugs). Hold up your boards (I quickly scan the boards). Good job, now let's finish the story.

There were 2 ladybugs sitting on a flower. 1 ladybug flew away. Everyone cross out 1 of the ladybugs you drew. Answering in a complete sentence, how many ladybugs are left?

Students: There is 1 ladybug left!

Me: Excellent! We are going to do the same thing for two more stories. (I guide the next two stories exactly the same way I guided the first one.

Second story: There are 6 cookies in the cookie jar. My sister ate 3 of them. How many cookies are left?

Third story: There are 9 little fish in a bowl. The pet store sold 4 of them. How many fish are left?

When we are finished with all three practice story problems, I explain to them how we are going to make a subtraction story problem class book.

Independent Practice

15 minutes

Now that the kids have had practice successfully representing story problems through drawing pictures, I explain the end goal for the lesson.

Me: Today we are going to make a class book of subtraction story problems that we can share with other kindergarten classes. You get to make up your own story, draw it out, and color it. Make sure you draw big so everyone can see what you're story is about and color it "professional" so it looks like it came from a real bookstore. You can only draw up to 10 objects though so make sure your subtraction story starts with 10 or less objects.

Turn on your thinkers (I point to my brain). My kids usually close their eyes and hold the sides of their heads with their fingers. Now think of something you could draw a few of on your paper and think of a a subtraction story that goes with those objects. I choose one of my higher kids to share with the class to get the ball rolling.

Student (Anelyse): I am going to draw butterflies.

Me: Can you tell us your story?

Anelyse: There are 6 butterflies fluttering around my head. 2 of them see a flower and fly away. There are 4 butterflies left.

Me: Good job! I like how your butterflies were all together, but then 2 of them flew away. That's going to be a great story for our book when you're done.

One more person share their story with us (students raise their hands). This time a choose a med to med-high level student, Christopher.

Christopher: My story is going to be about sharks. I have 5 pet sharks. 1 tries to bite me and my dad says I have to give it away to the zoo. I have 4 sharks left.

Me: Great story, Christopher! The sharks are fun. That's going to make a exciting page in our book. (I ask the kids to go sit at their tables so the helpers can pass out paper)

Me: Please draw out your story in pencil first and have me check it before you begin to color it. I am going to set the timer for 10 minutes. Please have your pencil drawing done by the time the it rings.

Exit Ticket

10 minutes

For the Exit Ticket, I just have them "professionally color" their subtraction story problems.

By this point the students have:

  • made up a subtraction story
  • drawn it out in pictures
  • raised their hands and had me check their work

If they have done everything correctly now is the time to color them and put them together to make a class book. Once the book is put together I read each story problem to the class.