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Subtraction Word Problems

In first grade, it's so easy for us teachers to assume students already know something. When a student can find the right answer to an addition or subtraction problem, we assume that they understand it. But, do they really understand it?

I always like to allow students to have a lot of dialogue surrounding the concepts that we are working on and subtraction is no different.

I wanted to share this activity with you because it really gave students the ability to practice subtraction in a more meaningful way. When subtraction is put into context of a word problem, students actually begin to understand that to subtract means to take something away. In this activity students get to practice this and deepen their understanding.

Before my students and I did this lesson we did two days of subtraction lessons which came after about two weeks of addition instruction. They have a basic understanding right now and this lesson was meant to deepen that.

For this lesson, I prepared this anchor chart ahead of time. When I prepared it though, I left the lines blank. My students and I read through the word problem without the subject, the place and the numbers. They determined right away that this was a subtraction word problem. I asked the students to help me fill in the blanks. If we weren't so tight on time I would have had them come up and write the numbers and words, but we were in a bit of a rush. After we filled in the blanks we discussed what the word problem was actually asking us to do. Then, we came up with our number sentence. The student I called on for the number sentence did a classic: raise your hand and then say I forgot. I actually love it when this happens because I can guide the student through the thinking process which is exactly what I did. It helped her understand how to develop a number sentence from a word problem and honestly, I think it helped it click for a few other students too.



Once we were done with the whole group lesson, then it was the students turn to come up with their own word problem. I had them write their own word problem and then solve it themselves. When they finished, they wrote a different word problem on the other side of the paper and gave it to a friend to solve. (this was great for motivation)



If you want to try something like this, you can grab the word problem paper for free here.

Have fun!!


Officer Buckle and Gloria Reading Response

Hey guys! It's been a while since I've been on here but I just wanted to pop in to pass along a freebie that was inspired by our read aloud today.

Each Monday morning, after calendar I read a story to my class that will correlate with one of their reading stations: Book Response. Normally this station has a simple response sheet where they rate the book, tell what it was about, draw their favorite part and circle words to describe the book.

We decided this week to switch it up after we read Officer Buckle and Gloria. Inside the story a student writes Officer Buckle a letter using star shaped paper. My students thought that was so cool. So, this week, their reading response is on star paper. It isn't anything fancy and I've left it pretty open.

These are their choices that I'll provide:
(I'm also always open to their ideas too)

1. Draw a picture of a character and write events that happened to that character.
2. Retell the story elements.
3. Write your own safety tips (this goes with the story)
4. Write about your favorite parts
5. Retell the story

I printed one blank star and one star that has the words, "My Safety Tips."
I am going to leave this pretty open ended and let the students choose what they want to do.


Here is an example of two stars so you can get an idea. I made these two stars as examples for my own students.

To grab this for free, just click here or the picture below!


Fact Fluency in First Grade!

When you hear the term fact fluency, you often think of a timed test of addition or subtraction facts. This is what I used to think of too. I've dug more into that term and realized that students do not become fluent fact solvers unless they can successfully understand numbers and the strategies used to solve a variety of addition and subtraction equations.

A few years ago, I was noticing that I was teaching my first graders all of these fact solving strategies to help them become better mathematicians. As we were building upon concepts, I began noticing that some important concepts were being forgotten. We would have to take a few steps back, review and redo. I had math stations in place, but they were whatever I could muster together at the time because... *new baby!*



This is when the idea of a Fact Fluency packet arose. I chose particular strategies that my students needed at certain points in the year, created extremely easy prep activities and we set off practicing our fact fluency strategies each Friday.

Today, I want to show you the first Fact Fluency pack. It's my back to school unit and it's specifically geared for first grade. My recommendation with the first pack is to start the kids off very slowly. Each day during the first few weeks of the year my students and I have a mini-lesson practicing one of the skills inside the fact fluency product. Once we have a mini-lesson, I decide if they can do it on their own, need a partner or need whole class guidance. I pass it out, we do it and done! When I feel like they can tackle four of the concepts successfully, then we begin Fact Fluency Friday.



Fact Fluency Friday is where I set out four buckets. In each bucket, there is a different activity that allows students to practice a different math skill that they have already learned. Each student is also given a Checklist. They get to choose which tub they begin with. When they finish, they bring their paper to me. I check it, return it and place a smiley face or sticker on the number they completed. For example, if they took an activity from tub 1, they would get a completion sticker on #1 on their checklist.

Here is an example of the set up of Fact Fluency on a Friday.
You could easily have students do these for math stations as well. Each day, during math station time, they choose which activity to do. They can still earn stickers as they finish. Either way will get the same results!


Once all of the buckets are out, then you want to fill each one with a different activity. You get to choose which activity goes in each number. I did not pre-number them as there are more than four concepts included in most of my Fact Fluency Products.


After you choose which activity the students will complete, then you will want to set out the manipulatives or supplies that students will need to complete each activity. In the back to school file, I have included printable versions of the manipulatives that you will need to fit the back to school theme, but you can always use what you already have! The things included are number lines to 10 and counters.

Now that you know how the system works. Here are the actual concepts covered in the Back to School Fact Fluency Product. I have also pictured the materials you will need with each activity!

This first activity focuses on practicing the skill one 1 more and 1 less using numbers under 20. One of my favorite math tools that I have my students use all year is the build it mat that you see here. It allows students to manipulative their numbers in an organized manner. It also emphasizes the language and symbols of +1 and -1!



This next activity is all about making ten! This is such an important skill to master in first grade. Students work on using number lines or counters to solve addition equations. 


This next activity is all about writing those numbers and counting up to 52! Students get to practice two things at once here! They simply trace all of their numbers, cut them out and place them in the correct empty spaces so that they are in sequential order.


This is one that I LOVE! Students are working here to look at a series of four numbers. Their job is to identify if YES! Those four numbers are in order from least to greatest or NO! Those four numbers are not in order from least to greatest.



This last one allows students to practice drawing math pictures to solve addition equations. It also allows students to view a picture and create a matching addition equation. For example, if there is one black dot and three white dots then the addition equation would be 1+3=4.

As you can see, each concept includes four different activities! That gives students four weeks of practice on that skill before they move onto the next set of fact fluency strategy skills!

Next up, organizing these each month.

I simply, stick the cover of the product on the front of the folder.

Inside the folder I place my master copies and any manipulatives that I cut and print out for use.

I also like to include the contents of the product so I know which concepts are covered. I saves me time so I don't have to sift through all of the papers.




There you go, Fact Fluency! If you're interested in trying out the Back to School file, click here!