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Subtraction With Bead Bars

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Subtraction With Bead Bars
Math - Memory Work
Sub with bead bars 11.JPG
Level Primary
Age 4 - 5
Materials two bead stairs (1-10 and 1-9)
pointer for counting
subtraction problem slips
table-mat (if at table)

This activity allows the child to figure out subtraction facts.


  1. Take the material to a mat or table. (If at a table, you will need a table-mat.)
    Sub with bead bars 1.JPG
  2. Draw a problem slip and copy it to the paper.
    Sub with bead bars 2.JPG
  3. Take the bead bar for the first number in the problem (the minuend) from the first bead stair.
    Sub with bead bars 3.JPG
  4. Count off with the pointer the second number in the problem (the subtrahend) starting from the right.
    Sub with bead bars 4.JPG Sub with bead bars 5.JPG Sub with bead bars 6.JPG Sub with bead bars 7.JPG
  5. Leave the counter in place and point with a finger to count the remaining beads.
    Sub with bead bars 8.JPG Sub with bead bars 9.JPG
  6. Take a bead bar from the second bead stair that matches up with the number of remaining beads. This is the answer. Write the answer on the paper.
    Sub with bead bars 11.JPG Sub with bead bars 12.JPG
  7. For problems in which the first number is greater than ten start by writing the problem on the paper.
    Sub with bead bars 13.JPG
  8. Then lay out the first number as a combination of a ten bar and the appropriate smaller bead bar.
    Sub with bead bars 14.JPG
  9. Count from the right as before, then leave the counter in place and count the remaining beads with your finger.
    Sub with bead bars 15.JPG Sub with bead bars 16.JPG
  10. Find the bead bar for the answer from the second bead stair. Record the answer on the paper.
    Sub with bead bars 17.JPG Sub with bead bars 18.JPG

Points of Interest

Control of Error

Variations and Extensions