I seriously cannot think of a better way to help children understand subtraction than with disappearing marshmallows! Of course, those marshmallows must ‘disappear’ into their tummies! The Free Printable Marshmallow Subtraction Problems for Kindergarten is a perfect way to engage young learners while enticing their taste buds.

– Life Over C's Free Printable Marshmallow Subtraction

Recommended Grade Level:

Marshmallow Subtraction Supplies:

  • Paper
  • Laminating Supplies
  • Scissors
  • Dry Erase Marker
  • Marshmallows

While the marshmallows are certainly the stars of this activity, the colorful cereal bowls and bright borders add to that magic. Provide the necessary hands-on subtraction skills practice your kindergarten math students need with this low-prep activity.

Slides included feature the following subtraction problems: 10-1, 10-5, 10-6, 10-9, 9-3, 9-4, 9-6, 9-9, 8-1, 8-3, 8-6, 7-2, 7-4, 7-7, 6-2, 6-5, 5-3, 4-2, 3-2, 2-1. Each page can be cut in half, or you can leave them whole to work on two vertical subtraction problems per mat.

Teaching Subtraction to Kindergarten

As with addition, there are some prerequisite skills that should be in place before delving into the more complex concept of subtraction.

– Life Over C's The free marshmallow subtraction math mat for the number “4”.

When children have a good grasp of addition, we can introduce subtraction to kindergarteners.

Like other math activities in kindergarten, both addition and subtraction activities must be hands-on. Include lots of opportunities in your lesson plans for students to manipulate objects by starting with a group, then taking away a specific number, then counting how many objects are left.

Incorporate the language of subtraction into each activity for kids. Say things like, “How many are left? Take away 2. How many do you have now? Do you have less or more than you started with? 8 minus 2 equals 6.”

Before you introduce subtraction equations on kindergarten worksheets or games, make sure they have an understanding of what subtraction means.

How to Use the Marshmallow Subtraction Cards for Kindergarten

This activity is super easy to prep! Just print, cut the pages in half (as desired), and then laminate them or stick them into protective pouches.

Then, you get to decide how to administer the subtraction game for your students. There are SO. MANY. OPTIONS!

If your students have already been introduced to subtraction and have an understanding of how to solve the vertical subtraction for kindergarten, you can turn them loose:

  • Place the subtraction sentence mats at the math center for small groups to explore. Consider aids like ten frames, non-edible counters, and anchor charts to support those independent workers.
– Life Over C's The free marshmallow subtraction math mat for the number “7”.

If you are going to introduce subtraction with this engaging hands-on activity:

  1. Keep it abstract at first by pairing the mats with oral subtraction word problems. Ask the students to place the appropriate number of marshmallows into the cereal bowl as you say, “Jonny poured 8 marshmallows into his bowl. How many? Yes, 8. Then, his mom said he could eat 1 marshmallow. How many? Yes, 1. Class, you may eat 1 marshmallow!”
  2. Ask the student to count the remaining marshmallows. Then, ask them, “How many marshmallows are left? Yes, 7.
  3. Continue with story problems until most students understand what’s happening. Then, begin adding in the language of the equations, “8 minus 1 equals 7.”
– Life Over C's The free marshmallow subtraction math mat for the number “2”.

Other options include:

  • Print the mats, staple them together, then use them as a math subtraction worksheet where students can record their answers in pencil after placing and eating the marshmallows.
  • Work with small groups to introduce subtraction as explained above.
– Life Over C's The free marshmallow subtraction math mat for the number “9”.

More Fun Subtraction Activities for Kindergarten

Math worksheets alone will not cut it for your students to truly “get” subtraction. Play as many games as possible!

  • Subtraction Bowling! Use those classic plastic pins and ball to have a great time knocking them down and relating it to subtraction.
  • Card games: Turn classic playing cards into a subtraction game by taking turns drawing a card, then subtract the smaller number from the larger one.
  • Use ten frames: Start with a full ten frame, then roll a die to see how many to subtract. The first person to remove all ten objects from their ten frame is the winner.
  • Incorporate play dough by creating small balls. Count the total number of balls, then roll a die to find out how many balls to “smash.” Finally, count how many are left.

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– Life Over C's Free Printable Marshmallow Subtraction
– Life Over C's marshmallow subtraction activity S
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Kim Staten Owner and Curriculum Designer
Kim Staten is a mother of four children ages 20, 19, 16, and 12. Kim has taught at the preschool, kindergarten and early elementary levels for 16 years. With extensive experience working with special needs children, including her own children with special needs (Rett Syndrome, autism, anxiety, and ADHD), she creates hands-on curricula and activities that are great for working with children of all abilities in the classroom and at home. Hands-on, accessible activities are her passion. 

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