My students were having a bit of trouble understanding the difference between addition and subtraction. We did a variety of activities to help them understand, including using manipulatives, pictures, and putting two equations with the same numbers, but different signs right next to each other (5+3=8 5-3=2). However, the thing that worked the very best was to let them come up with their own word problems. At first, they were just excited to be able to use each other’s names, but as they got to drawing, they really understood all of a sudden that in addition you have two separate groups, where as in subtraction you have one group and you are giving some away. It’s also made my problem solving center run so much smoother! Here’s what we did:
1st – We wrote an addition word problem using the names of our friends. We also drew a picture to represent our word problem.
2nd – On the back, we wrote the addition fact that would solve the word problem we created.
3rd – We had each student’s page bound into a book and placed it on the “warm shelf” to be read over and over.
4th – Repeat Steps 1-3, with a subtraction fact.
5th – Had a whole class discussion about the difference between addition and subtraction.
Want to try this with your class – click on any of the pictures and get the pages for FREE from my Google Docs.