Elementary Subtraction Problems with Solutions

If your first or second grader is struggling with subtraction, you can help him or her practice at home by providing extra worksheets or showing him or her how subtraction can be applied in real-life situations. Read on for sample subtraction problems and solutions.

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How to Practice Subtraction at Home

Subtraction generally is studied over the course of a few years. In first grade, students begin to subtract using whole numbers. They also come to understand the connection between addition and subtraction by using one operation to check their answer for the other. For instance, consider the problem 8 - 5 = 3. The answer makes sense because 5 + 3 = 8. While first graders tend to work with numbers from 0-12, second graders may solve problems using numbers within 1,000.

If subtraction is still a new concept, your child may benefit from using counters, which can include fingers or other manipulatives, such as coins or small toys, that can help him or her visualize the problem. Make these readily available when your child is doing his or her homework.

Because subtraction is such a practical skill, you can find opportunities for your child to practice it in real scenarios, which likely will be more meaningful to him or her than completing problems on a worksheet. For instance, if you give a cashier a $20 bill for something that costs $17, you might ask your child to figure out how much money you should get back.

Problems and Solutions

1. 15 - 5

Remember to provide scratch paper or manipulatives in case your child needs these to visualize the problem. The answer is 10.

2. 14 - 4 - 6

Breaking a problem into manageable parts can make it seem less intimidating. For this problem, encourage your son or daughter to deconstruct the problem like this: 14 - 4 = 10; 10 - 6 = 4. One helpful strategy is to have your child look for equations that he or she knows by sight, like 10 - 6.

3. Lyn has 11 flowers. Judy has nine. How many more flowers does Lyn have?

When creating word problems for your child, use simple language and sentence structure. Because 11 - 9 = 2, Lyn has two more flowers than Judy.

4. Josh had a quarter, a dime and three pennies in his pocket. When he sat down, two pennies fell out. How much money did Josh have left?

Use word problems as an opportunity to introduce your child to basic math vocabulary. For instance, 'in all' generally indicates that he or she will use addition, while 'left' usually implies subtraction.
This problem likely is more appropriate for 2nd graders because they have been introduced to working with money. Initially, Josh had 38 cents. Your child can solve the rest of the problem using subtraction: 38 - 2 = 36 cents.
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