Submitted by: Rachel Zindler

Grade Levels: K-3

In this lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades K through 3, students use BrainPOP Jr. resources to learn how to use a variety of strategies to subtract small numbers. They will also learn about fact families while working collaboratively in independent groups.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Learn how to use a variety of strategies to subtract small numbers
  2. Learn about fact families
  3. Work collaboratively in independent groups


  • Computers (enough for at least 1/4 the class to work in pairs on computers at the same time).
  • Class set of copies of the following pages from the Basic Subtraction Movie: Activity sheets, Game Sheet and spinners, Write About it, Print Notebook, and Easy and Hard Quizzes.
  • Interactive whiteboard or chart paper for the "Talk about it" web.


subtract; difference; fact family; number line; - (minus sign). Note - all included in Word Wall from Basic Subtraction movie.


Log on to BrainPOP Jr. Prepare copies and charts as listed above. Divide your class into small groups.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Ask your students what it means to subtract. What do they know about subtraction? Invite them to give examples of when they use subtraction in their daily lives. Explain a few examples from your own life.
  2. Tell your class they are going to be learning a lot more about subtraction in the coming days.
  3. Go over Basic Subtraction Word Wall words and their definitions, including the minus sign. Tell students to keep an eye out for these words in the movie they are about to watch.
  4. Show the BrainPOP Jr. movie Basic Subtraction. Remember to pause to allow students to discuss and answer the questions posed in the movie. Older students might want to use the Print Notebook pages for note-taking.
  5. Divide your class into small groups, and within each group assign pairs of students to work together. Explain that each group will rotate through different activities from BrainPOP Jr.
  6. Give a tour of the centers set up around the room for students to complete the following activities with their partners:
    A. Pairs can use the computer to do the Draw about it activity.
    B. Pairs play the Subtraction Game with their partners.
    C. Pairs write and solve story problems with their partners and then exchange them with other partnerships.
    D. Pairs or individuals can complete the Hard or Easy Quizzes on the computers or on paper.Continue rotating as time allows.
    E. Pairs can use the Word Wall to practice key vocabulary words related to Subtraction. Each student can copy each of the 5 words on index cards and write or draw a definition in their own words, then test one another using the cards.
  7. Organize students to get started at their first station. Spend about 15 - 20 minutes at each station. When time is almost up for the day, have partners interview one another on their favorite activity and share out a few answers.
  8. The next day, review the Basic Subtraction movie. Students can rotate to any centers they missed, until all students have had a chance to complete each activity.
  9. Gather the class together and show the Talk About It web on an interactive whiteboard or the chart paper you have prepared.
  10. Invite students to share the strategies for subtraction they have used.
  11. Modeling the features, revisiting the movie, and rotating through the centers can be spread out throughout the entire week. Remember to have manipulatives (buttons,counters, cubes, etc.) available for students at each center to help them solve problems.

Extension Activities:

Students can take home their vocabulary cards to share and practice with their families. Check out BrainPOP Jr.'s Grown Ups Guide for additional extension ideas!