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7 Subtraction With Regrouping Activities Kids Love

1st & 2nd Grade Math Skills, Math, Operations, Subtraction

Written by: Katie Palmer

Teaching subtraction with regrouping can be tricky! That's why our team went on the search to round up hands-on and creative subtraction with regrouping activities that are fun to teach and engaging for students. Peruse the ideas below, and share any others you may have because, together we are better.

1-Bottle Cap Subtraction

Bottle cap subtraction is a hands on way to demonstrate the regrouping process! Try this with a small group or even one-on-one! This intervention has proven to be very engaging for students, and is a great option to send home.If you like this unique idea, check out these additional “subtraction with regrouping strategies”.

bottle cap subtraction template in action

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2-Use Visuals

When I was in elementary school, I remember learning to regroup, but not WHY . Using visuals like place value blocks, or other manipulatives, model the process to help students understand the why behind the regrouping process.

tens and ones blocks to show the concept of two digit subtraction with regrouping

See this hands on and visual strategy in action from @teachingwithkayleeb.

3-Anchor Chart

Anchor charts do just what their title implies, they anchor learning. Try combining your students' love of ice cream with subtraction skills to create learning that sticks.

Get a closer look at this anchor chart from @theamygroesbeck.

4-Take One Away

This is a trick I wish I would have known sooner! If you have students who are struggling subtracting across zeroes, (it is so easy to get all of the little numbers and cross out s mixed up), have them try an alternate way. Take one away from both numbers in their problem. This takes away any needed regrouping! After teaching this trick, I would then go back to using visuals with these students to help them build regrouping confidence.

subtraction with regrouping strategy take one away

Learn this quick strategy with @learnhowwithmrsdowe.

5-Make a Game of It

Once you have modeled how to use manipulatives to regroup, have students try it! Pass out place value blocks, and allow students to work along side you as you model a subtraction problem. Then, have them roll a dice to subtract.

games for subtraction with regrouping using manipulatives

Watch this game in action from @appliciousteacher!

This game is a great lead in to teaching 3-digit subtraction with regrouping!

6-Read All About It

Tie reading and math together with this fun activity! Find a picture book that includes subtraction or place value of some kind. (Here are some place value book suggestions.) If possible, use a document camera so students can easily follow along and engage with the illustrations. Also provide your students with place value blocks to demonstrate numbers/subtraction happening in the story. What a fun way to build number sense!

Peep this literature and math tie in strategy from @polkadotsandplanning.

7-Alliteration & Rhymes

Alliterations occur when words in a sentence begin with the same sound.The bonus of using alliterations in learning is they are easy to memorize! The same goes with rhymes. To this day, I still find myself chanting, ” 8 times 8 fell on the floor..when it got up, it was 64″, while helping my son with his math homework. A fellow teacher, Shelby McDianiel, employs a wonderful alliteration to help her students solve subtraction with regrouping problems.

bigger bottom better tomorrow chart to teach subtraction with regrouping

Get a closer look at this chart from @shelfby.a.mcdaniel!

Another Idea?

Do you have subtraction with regrouping activities and ideas to share?
Feel free to drop your thoughts in the comments and share them with our teaching community!

Happy teaching!


  1. soni sadhra

    Can you please send me the free math sheet with ones and tens used by kids for subtraction with regrouping


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