Problem Solving for Five-Year-Old Kids: Addition and Subtraction

What can you do to help your child learn math?

Just as with reading and writing, math needs to be learned in concrete ways. You need to build a good solid foundation, before children can be expected to learn abstract concepts, that happen later in this development.

This can be accomplished using many everyday items and simple toys, like: blocks, shape sorters, building sets, and puzzles promote math skills in a tangible way for children.

Addition and Subtraction

To introduce the concept of addition and subtraction you can do it during everyday situations such as shopping and eating. For example, you could include the child when doing the snack. The child can count 20 berries at the beginning and then subtract five for him and his sister.

All for Numbers


  • 1 hoola hoop
  • Bean bags (as many as you want)

How to play:

This activity is perfect for teaching subtraction and addition and gets the children moving. Children can work in groups; the teacher will give them the operation and they will have to add or subtract bean bags from the hoola hoops and count.

hoola hoops

Practicing with Beads


  • Pipe cleaners
  • Beads
  • Dices
  • Flashcards with the signs +,-, =.

How to play:

First the teacher will set the operation using the dices and the flashcards. Then, the child will try to do the equation introducing that amount and finally counting the beads in the pipe cleaner.


Playdough Subtraction


  • Flashcards with equations
  • Sectioned Mat

How to play?

Children will roll balls of playdough to represent the first number in the equation. Then, smash the second number to find the correct answer.

playdough math

Story Booklet


  • Dot Markers
  • Booklet

How to play:

The booklet has simple addition and subtraction in their stories, so they’ll have to solve this equations by representing the numbers with the markers.


Snack Time (by me)


  • Plastic Cups
  • Permanent Markers
  • Any small snack (grapes, peanuts, strawberries, m&m’s)

How to play:

Each cup will be label with an equation and the child will first try to solve the equation and according to the result fill the cup with that amount. You can either do it with one food or mix them.





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