Subtracting practically

Year 6 have been focusing on the four operations in Maths – addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. At the start of our subtraction unit of work, we got out the place value counters and place value mats, to look at what actually happens when you carry out column subtraction.

We started making four digit numbers, numbers with decimals etc. to familiarise ourselves with the different counters. After this, we we took a subtraction calculation and used the counters to solve problem. For example, if the problem was 4586 – 435, the children first made the larger number on their mats. They then started to subtract from the units column before moving to the tens, hundreds and thousands.

After this, we started to make the problems more challenging and introduced problems such as, 3406 – 1352. Using the counters, they soon realised that they couldn’t subtract the five tens from the zero tens, and would have to exchange one of the four hundreds instead. Physically removing one of the hundreds and exchanging this for ten tens really helped consolidate to the children why they were doing this, and what actually happens when you use column subtraction.

This helped the children’s learning for the rest of the week, where they could still use the counters and place value mats if needed. For those who didn’t need the mats or counters to carry out the operation, they  helped them visualise the process and understand what was happening at each stage.

Well done Year 6!