EL Support Lesson

Picture Strategy

Students will practise using drawings and images to support them as they practise solving subtraction equations within 10. This can be used as a stand alone or support lesson for the <a href="https://www.education.com/lesson-plan/spring-subtraction-equations/" target="_blank">Spring Subtraction Equations</a> lesson plan.
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for theSpring Subtraction EquationsLesson plan.
GradeSubjectView aligned standards
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for theSpring Subtraction EquationsLesson plan.

Students will be able to write and solve subtraction equations that match subtraction drawings.


Students will be able to explain the connection between a subtraction equation and a drawing using sentence frames.

(3 minutes)
Write Student-Facing Language Objectives ReferenceVocabulary Cards: Picture StrategySubtraction for KidsTeach Background Knowledge TemplateGlossary: Picture Strategy
  • Prior to the start of the lesson draw a picture on the board of eight pieces of candy, along with a blank subtraction equation.
  • Gather the class together and ask for four volunteers. Have your volunteers come to the front of the class and say, "I found four interesting rocks on the way to school (gesture towards your volunteers), then two of my rocks fell out of my pocket. How many rocks do I have left?"
  • Model counting the four "rocks" then move two rocks to the side and recount the amount left.
  • Explain that you just performed a subtraction equation. Share that you used volunteers instead of pictures, but that pictures are a useful stragegy to use when solving subtraction equations.
(5 minutes)
  • Write up the equation (and pictures or visuals) to go with your problem 4 - 2 = 2On the board and review the parts of the equation (difference, etc.).
  • Have students turn and talk to share the difference between addition and subtraction.
  • Restate, "Addition is when we add two or more things together. Subtraction is when we take something away."
  • Model how to complete a second sample problem. Using your prewritten problem on the board, use think alouds to demonstrate your thought process and how to use mathematical vocabulary. Make sure to show how you are making a connection between the pictures and the equation. Demonstrate how you cross out the pictures you are subtracting from the problem. Circle the pictures you have left and show how you recount them twice to check your answer.
  • Explain that mathematicians always check their work. Ask for ideas of other ways you could have checked your work (recounting, using counters, etc.).
  • Create a strategy poster or bank for students to reference.
(5 minutes)
  • Write up a new problem along with pictures (e.g., six shoes minus three shoes) and have students practise solving it with a partner. You can provide paper or individual white boards to each pair.
  • Go over the problem as a class and have students explain how they solved it using sentence frames to show each step. For example, "First we ____, then we ____. We checked out work by ____."
(10 minutes)
  • Display the Subtraction for Kids worksheets and clarify any instructions.
  • Pass out worksheets and have students complete independently.
  • Ask students to turn and talk to share their work with a peer. Have students share how they solved each problem and how they checked their work.


  • Provide students with counters to support them as they solve the problem.
  • Put students in a small group and practise using sentence frames to describe and explain how they solved their problems.


  • Have students complete additional subtraction problems, this time writing their own equations to go with their pictures.
  • Ask students to share with a peer their problem solving process.
(5 minutes)
  • When students trade work with their partners and share their strategy for solving each problem, (during the independent work portion) take note of the type of strategy students are using. Check for accuracy and misconceptions.
(2 minutes)
  • Write up a final problem to solve with the class.
  • Make a note of any new ideas or strategies you noticed during work period and have students share out how they used these to solve their problems. Provide sentence frames for students to use when sharing. For example, "I used ____To solve my problem. I know it worked because ____."

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