6 Free Part Part Whole Subtraction Activities

Simple Subtraction – Taking Objects Away

Before children can begin to use part part whole models to subtract, they need to have a thorough understanding of simple subtraction. The most basic subtraction activities that children can do are ones in which objects are physically removed from a group to work out the calculation. This can be done using a wide range of objects including counters, buttons, toys etc. The physical action of moving the items allows children to see and count the new amount. This may be done before any introduction to signs and symbols. Word problems are a useful introduction e.g. There are 10 buttons in a jar. 2 buttons get taken out. How many are left?

Simple Subtraction – Part part whole

Part part whole is often used to show the composition of numbers to support addition and number bonds but when the whole and one of the parts is known, subtraction can be used to find out the missing part.

part part whole

The diagram above can be used to represent both addition and subtraction and children need to start to make links between the two. My bubble subtraction PowerPoint does just that.

It starts off by demonstrating the subtraction process as the bubbles pop.

simple subtraction

It then goes on to demonstrate how it can be written as a part-part-whole diagram. Children should already be familiar with these from learning about addition which will help them to make the links.

Children are then supported in doing their own subtraction using both the process of taking objects away followed by a representation of the parts and the whole to illustrate the same subtraction.

The final challenge is to write all the number sentences possible from the diagram which includes both addition and subtraction.

Once you have shared the video with the children there are a number of free worksheets that can be used to consolidate their learning further. There are seven pages, each getting progressively harder as the children’s understanding deepens.

The early subtraction worksheets allow children to either cover up or cross out the bubbles to help them work out the answer.

Once they are confident with the above they can then add the numbers to the diagram as well.

Eventually, children will be confident to use the diagrams to write as many number sentences as possible, whether addition or subtraction.

Finally, children can be asked to complete subtraction problems, using the previous knowledge that they have developed.

It is important that children are really confident with addition and part-part-whole diagrams before progressing onto any of the above. For more information on this visit my previous blog –

Part-part whole with The Little Dots

For more resources visit my teacherspayteachers store of my tes store.

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