Separating Groupsof Single Blocks
basic view of subtraction is one of “separating”or “counting back”from agiven amount.This process is easily modeled on a number line.An initialquantity is shown on the line and then some of the blocks are taken away.This approach works well for small numbers and helps to further children’scounting strategies and understanding of subtraction.
Separating on the Number Lines
Present a story problem such as the one that follows (replace names withthose of your own students).
(Sean) has 8 blocks.He gives 3 of them to (Rachel).How many blocks does (Sean) have now?
Have children model the problem and find the answer.Tell the children that they are now goingto do the same problem with the number lines. Ask one child to place 8 blocks on aline. Have another child take 3 of theblocks and place them on another num-ber line. You may want children to countback, saying, “seven, six, five,” as theblocks are removed. Ask,
How many blocks does (Sean) have left?
Have children work in pairs with blocksand two number lines. The first childplaces some blocks on the number lineand the other child removes some of those blocks to the other line. Oncefamiliar with the task, children shouldrecord their work. Pairs of children canthen tell their classmates what they didand share their recordings.Discuss with children that what they are doing is separating the groups, or subtracting. When appropriate, introduce the minus (–) and equals (=) signs
Exploring subtraction with the single blocksand number lines
Children can model the separating process on two number lines,removing some number to the second line to find out howmany are left.