Where Did They Go-An Introduction to Subtraction

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Students will be able to act out and solve "take away" problems.

Big Idea

Students are introduced to the concept of subtracting through this farm themed lesson.


10 minutes

For this part of the lesson, you will need Where did they go? included as a PDF with the lesson.  I print the book on a colored printer and laminate the pages for durability and then bind it with a comb binder.  You will need to cut apart the pieces that are included and apply hook Velcro to the back of the pieces.  Then apply fuzzy Velcro where indicated on the pages.  The students will be moving the pieces within the book, allowing it to be interactive.

I gather the students around my big chair.  Farmer Fred has been a recurring character in my math lessons on addition, so the students recognize him immediately when I hold up the book.  I tell the students, We are going to read another Farmer Fred story today.  It is called, Where Did They Go?  The Case of the Missing Animals.  What does it mean when something is missing?  That's right.  It means you can't find it or you don't know where it is.  Have you ever had something that has been missing?  I want you to turn and tell a neighbor about it.   I give the students time to talk.  This helps them to make an immediate connection to what we are going to be reading about.  It also helps my English Language Learners better understand the concept of "missing".  When they are all done talking, I draw them back together and we begin to read the book. 

Page 1:  Hi!  It’s me, Farmer Fred.  I’ve got a problem.  Some of my animals are missing.  Can you help me count how many I have left?  Maybe you can help me find them? 

Page 2:  I have five horses.  Two are missing.  How many are left?  I invite a student to come up and move the horses away.  I invite another student to come up and finish the number sentence.  We check the students' work as a class and say the number sentence together. 

Page 3-5:  Continue as above.

Page 6:  Gee, I really wish I knew where my animals went!!

Page 7:  Gordy, did you take the animals?  Hey, I can't party alone!  The students love that one of their favorite math characters, Greedy Gordy, make an appearance in this book. 

So, boys and girls, we have been learning about bringing two parts together. Today, we are going to learn about taking a part away from a group, so let's move over to our SMARTBoard spots. 

Direct Instruction

15 minutes

For this portion of the lesson, I use the Where Did They Go SMARTBoard file.  If you have a different type of interactive whiteboard, you can still use this lesson by opening the file in Smart Notebook Express.  There is also a PDF you can use to recreate this part of the lesson.

I gather my students in front of the SMARTBoard.  I have cards with each student's name on.  These cards are used for selecting who will come up to the Smartboard.

I open the first slide (SMARTBoard Slide 1) with the lesson objective written in "student friendly" terms.  There is a content objective and a language objective to help focus on vocabulary expansion for my English Learners (ELs) to be congruent with SIOP instructional techniques. I read these objectives aloud for my students.

Content Objective
I can act out and solve take away problems. 

Language Objective
I can tell a friend how to solve a take away problem problem.

Slide 2:  That Greedy Gordy!  He is always up to something.  He keeps taking animals away from the barnyard.  Can you help me figure out how many animals are left?

Slide 3:  Act out the problem.  There are 5 cows in the barnyard.  Greedy invites 2 to party with him in the barn.  How many cows are left in the barnyardI invite a student to come up and move the cows into the barn yard.  I invite another student to take away the cows and move them into the barn.  A third student comes up and solves the problem.  We check the students' work as a class and then, we say the number sentence together.  This is an important step in developing academic vocabulary for my English Language Learners. 

Slide 4-6: Continue as above. 

Slide 7:  It's is now Turn and Talk Time.  During Turn and Talk, my students get the opportunity to practice their academic language.  This is especially important for my English Language Learners, but all of my students benefit from this practice.

Every student has a Turn and Talk partner.  I ask them to hold hands with their partner and raise their hands in the air so I know that everyone has a partner. I say to them, Discuss with your neighbor how you would solve this problem.  There are 2 ducks in the barnyard.  Gordy invites 1 to the party.  How many are left?  I don't want just the answer.  I want to know how you would act it out on the SMARTBoard.  

I give the students time to talk.  I listen to their conversations and guide them as needed.  When they are done discussing, I invite a student to explain for the class how to solve the problem.  I then invite students to come up to the board and go through the steps of solving it one more time for reinforcement.  I talk through each step to emphasize what the students need to do.  

We now return to our seats for guided practice.

Guided Practice

10 minutes

For this portion of the lesson, you will need the Farm Animal Masks included as a PDF with this lesson.  These were used in previous lesson in this unit.  You will need one mask per student.  It does not matter what animals you have for this activity, as long as each student has a mask. 

I tell the students that we are going to take away problems.  I pass out the masks to the students and then I call different combinations of animals in front of the class.  I count off a group of four students to go to the front of the room. I say to the students, There are 4 animals in the barnyard.  Gordy invites 2 cows to come to his party in the barn.  How many animals are left?  I have the cows step off to the side.  I call on a student to answer the question.  I then invite the class to say the number sentence with me, 4 take away 2 is 2.  

We do several more problems until everyone has had a chance to go in front of the class.  I make sure the entire class repeats the sentence.  This important step helps develop the students' academic language.

We prepare for independent practice. 

Independent Practice and Informal Assessment

10 minutes

For this part of the lesson, you will need Farmyard Take Away activity included as a PDF with this lesson.  I run the activity sheet back to back and run one copy of the counters for every 7 students.  I cut the counters into strips to give the students.

I distribute the strips of counters to the students and have them cut them out and stack them up at their spots so they are ready to use them and there are no distractions when giving the activity instructions.

After the students are done counting, I pass out the activity sheet and have the students write their names at the top.  I tell the students, It is your turn to practice take away problems now.  You will be using the cow counters that you cut out to solve the problems.  Let's do the first one together.  It says.  4 take away 2.  How many cows do you need to put in the barnyard?  That's right.  So count out 4 cows and put them in the barnyard.  Now how many do I need to take away?  That is the second number.  That's right, 2.  So move two animals out of the barnyard.  How many do you have left?  That's right two.  So right how many you have left on the line. Go ahead and start solving the problems.  If you need help, raise your hand and I will come and help you. 

The students begin working on the problems.  I circulate around the room to help students who might be having some difficulties.  As the students complete the work, I check their work and ask them to say a few of the number sentences for me, so they get some more practice using the academic language from this lesson