Subtracting Using Objects & Drawings


Our Subtracting Using Objects & Drawings lesson plan teaches students strategies for subtracting in math problems using objects and drawings. Students complete practice problems in which they use the methods outlined in this lesson in order to solidify their understanding of the lesson material.

Included with this lesson are some adjustments or additions that you can make if you’d like, found in the “Options for Lesson” section of the Classroom Procedure page. One of the optional additions to this lesson is to have students use different starting amounts for the subtraction drop activity.

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What our Subtracting Using Objects & Drawings lesson plan includes

Lesson Objectives and Overview: Subtracting Using Objects and Drawings lesson plan helps students understand various vocabulary related to subtraction, as well as the symbols minus sign and equals sign. At the end of the lesson, students will be able to subtract whole numbers using objects and drawings. This lesson is for students in 1st grade and 2nd grade.

Classroom Procedure

Every lesson plan provides you with a classroom procedure page that outlines a step-by-step guide to follow. You do not have to follow the guide exactly. The guide helps you organize the lesson and details when to hand out worksheets. It also lists information in the blue box that you might find useful. You will find the lesson objectives, state standards, and number of class sessions the lesson should take to complete in this area. In addition, it describes the supplies you will need as well as what and how you need to prepare beforehand. The supplies you will need for this lesson are 10 clothespins per student, one bowl per group of students, and the lesson handouts. To prepare for this lesson ahead of time, you can copy the materials and gather the supplies.

Options for Lesson

Included with this lesson is an “Options for Lesson” section that lists a number of suggestions for activities to add to the lesson or substitutions for the ones already in the lesson. One of the suggested adjustments to this lesson is to have students use different starting amounts for the subtraction drop activity. You can also have students use different items at different stations for students to rotate through. Finally, you can use food to illustrate the concepts in the lesson by “taking away” food by eating it and writing math sentences.

Teacher Notes

The teacher notes page includes lines that you can use to add your own notes as you’re preparing for this lesson.


Subtracting Using Objects and Drawings

The Subtracting Using Objects & Drawings lesson plan includes two content pages. The lesson begins by asking students to envision that they have five crackers and eat two. How many crackers do they have left? To solve this problem, you have to use an operation, which is a way to solve a math problem. In math, we have four operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. In order to find the number of crackers left, we have to use subtraction. When talking about subtraction, we also use the words difference, left, minus, take away, remains, and less.

The first step is identifying how many of something you have (in this case, crackers). We started with five crackers, and ate three. If you’ve represented this with a drawing, you can simply cross out three crackers to find out how many are left over. In this case, there are two crackers left.

When subtracting, we are taking away a certain amount of something to find the answer. The answer is the amount left over. We also call answers to subtraction problems the difference. When you see a minus sign, that means you have to subtract. An equals sign indicates the answer. To write a subtraction problem as a math sentence, we use numbers. For example, we would write 5 – 3 = 2.

The lesson then includes another example that uses socks instead of crackers. There are eight socks, and we lose two in the washing machine. We can write this as 8 – 2 = 6. We can also represent this problem using a drawing, which the lesson shows.


The Subtracting Using Objects & Drawings lesson plan includes four worksheets: an activity worksheet, a practice worksheet, a homework assignment, and a quiz. You can refer to the guide on the classroom procedure page to determine when to hand out each worksheet.


Students will work in groups of two or three for this activity, and you will give each student 10 clothespins (or other objects). Each group of students will stand around a small bowl on the floor, and each student in the group will take turns trying to drop their clothespins into the bowl. They will write subtraction sentences using the results of this activity. For example, if they throw 10 clothespins but only seven go in the bowl, they will write 10 – 7 = 3. They will also mark this on the drawings provided on the worksheet.


For the practice worksheet, students will solve subtraction problems. The problems include illustrations that students can use for help.


The homework assignment asks the teacher to use 10 – 20 edible items (like grapes, chips, goldfish, or pretzels) to create six subtraction problems for students to solve. For each problem, students should draw a picture and write out a math sentence.


This lesson includes a quiz that you can use to test your students’ knowledge and understanding of the lesson material. For the quiz, students will solve subtraction problems.

Worksheet Answer Keys

This lesson plan includes answer keys for the practice worksheet and the quiz. If you choose to administer the lesson pages to your students via PDF, you will need to save a new file that omits these pages. Otherwise, you can simply print out the applicable pages and keep these as reference for yourself when grading assignments.

Additional information


1st Grade, 2nd Grade



State Educational Standards

LB.Math.Content.K.OA.A.1, LB.Math.Content.K.OA.A.2, LB.Math.Content.K.OA.A.3, LB.Math.Content.1.OA.A.1

Lessons are aligned to meet the education objectives and goals of most states. For more information on your state objectives, contact your local Board of Education or Department of Education in your state.