Subtraction Fact Fluency: Favorite Strategies

Have you ever been guilty of spending more time focusing on addition facts and less time on subtraction facts? If you’re nodding your head yes right now… me too! I never quite gave subtraction fact fluency the time and focus it deserves and our students need!

A few years ago I made addition fact fluency games and centers that I used with my students regularly. We had so much fun with them, and we used them in our Fact Fluency Friday rotations, too! I knew I needed to create subtraction fact fluency games and centers that we could play, too!

However, one of the most important goals I have with these activities is that they focus on a variety of fact fluency strategies. When we’re working with our students on subtraction facts, we want to teach them strategies for solving them quickly!

While there are many strategies to use, here are the three I like to focus on:

  1. Count Up & Count Back
  2. Doubles Facts
  3. Friends of 10

Let’s break down each one! Plus, at the end of this post I’ll have a free subtraction fact fluency game you can download!

Subtraction Fact Fluency Strategy #1: Count Up & Count Back

I love the counting up and counting back strategy! I teach my students to use the counting back strategy when we’re subtracting one, two, or three. For example, if we’re solving 9-2, we can quickly count back 8, 7.

For the count up strategy, I teach my students to use this when we’re dealing with numbers that are “number neighbors” or almost number neighbors. These are numbers that “live” right next to each other, like six and seven.

By the way, this number neighbors poster is included in the free download at the end of this post!

Subtraction fluency strategy: Number Neighbors

We use the counting up strategy when the numbers are relatively close to each other. Students start at the smaller number and count up to the bigger number. For example, if we’re solving 8-6, we start at 6 and count up 2 to get to 8.

Subtraction Strategy: Count up & slides/ladders game

Subtraction Fact Fluency Strategy #2: Doubles Facts

The doubles fact subtraction strategy is the perfect complement to knowing doubles facts with addition! Once your students know their addition doubles facts, they’ll be able to solve tons of subtraction facts very quickly!

I’m all about a good sentence starter, so when I’m teaching subtraction doubles, I love having my students say the strategy.

Subtraction Fluency Strategy: Doubles Facts

Here’s an example you might try with your students. I know 4 + 4 = 8, so I know 8 – 4 = 4!

As students recognize how addition and subtraction doubles facts are related, you’ll be so impressed with how quickly they can solve these facts! We love to play Subtraction Doubles Dash, just like Addition Doubles Dash!

Subtraction Fluency Strategy games

Psst! There’s a free download for this game at the end of this post!

Strategy #3: Friends of Ten

The final strategy I focus on with my students is what I like to call the Friends of Ten strategy. In this strategy, students solve the subtraction facts with 10. This is another strategy that again relates to addition facts!

For example, since we know 6 + 4 = 10, we can quickly solve 10 – 4 and get 6. We can also solve 10 – 6 and get 4!

Subtraction strategy games: Ocean friends of 10 puzzles

Teaching students to recognize these “friends of ten” will help them quickly master even more subtraction facts!

Subtraction Fact Fluency Freebie

I hope you loved learning all about my three favorite subtraction fact fluency strategies! I wanted to give you a free subtraction board game that you can print and play with your students! Plus, I’ve also included the Number Neighbors poster in the download!

Just click here to get the subtraction fact fluency freebies in your inbox!

FREE Subtraction strategy doubles game

Related post: Addition fact fluency

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