Subtraction Math Games

Instructor: Nicky Davis
Students may prefer addition over subtraction, but playing games in class can make getting practice with subtraction fun. This article covers some ideas for subtraction games, as well as resources that strengthen students' subtraction skills.

Subtraction Bingo

For this game, provide students with Bingo cards that have different subtraction problems in each square, such as '20-13' and '16-9'. The numbers called during the game are the correct answers to these problems. The first student to mark five consecutive squares vertically, horizontally or diagonally wins.

Subtract This!

Divide students into groups of three. One student will be the announcer, and the other two students will be the solvers. The announcer will deal out a deck of cards evenly to each of the solvers. Each solver will then simultaneously flip a card from their stack, and hold it up to their forehead so that the others can see what it is. The announcer will then add the two solvers' card values together and say the sum aloud, using a value of 11 for any face card. The two solvers must subtract each other's numbers from the sum to determine their own number. Whichever solver answers correctly first wins both cards. The goal of the game is to win all the cards in the deck.

Down to None

Divide students into groups of four. Assign each student in the group a suit of cards. Give each group two decks of cards to shuffle together. Instruct each student to write down the number 101 at the top of their paper and then draw cards at random from a deck. For every card drawn, the student with the corresponding suit must subtract the card's value from 101. The goal is to get down to exactly zero. If a student will dip below zero by subtracting the number drawn, then they must add that value instead. Depending on how close a student is to zero, they will either add or subtract 11 for face cards.

Subtraction Resources

Students can sharpen their subtraction skills with help from's engaging lessons. With these lessons, student can review different subtraction methods as well as the steps to solving subtraction problems. A short practice quiz can be found at the end of each lesson.

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