Subtraction games may be used to help build math fact fluency (memorization) with less of a skill and drill feel. The next games are used with a stack of flash cards. It is good to select all facts that revolve around one number such as 20, or to use a fact family at first. A math fact family might be 18, 7, and 11 so all the answers will be 18, 7 or 11. Additional fact families would then be added. This is helpful for those facts “in the teens” to help familiarize students with the families. Usually, we spend so long on numbers 1-10 and then the school year seems to go faster as we work to cover the curriculum by the end of the school year, and facts 11-20 seem to get less time and practice. Hopefully that isn’t true, but it often might be. The following games use a variety of sets of flashcards which the teacher will select to help the class in areas which need more practice. The games might be played with small groups.

For facts revolving around the number 20, of course, the following flashcards might be used: 10, 10, 20; 11, 9, 20; 8, 12, 20, and so on. Begin slowly and work in all the flashcards possible.

Number Line-Up, Silent Game: Divide the group into two. One group sits, and students in the other group each hold a flashcard without an answer. The students line up in order of the answers, from lowest to highest. When the line is finished, remaining students agree or disagree with thumbs up or down. Students with flashcards sit down and those sitting get new flashcards.

Number Pop, Silent Game: Give each student a flashcard without an answer.  From a sitting position, students hold up the card for the answer when the teacher counts 1-20. For instance, If the answer is 7 and the teacher says seven, that student stands and holds up the flashcard.

Basketball: The first person or team to correctly answer a flashcard or problem on the board gets to toss waded up scrap paper in the basket (use a basket, a recycle bin, or plastic bin).  A point is given if the paper goes in the basket. The person or team who gets the most points is the winner.

Concentration: You need two sets of flashcards with blank backs for this game.  Place both sets face down on the table.  Each student or team turns over two cards and if they match, keeps the cards in a pile. At the end of the time or game, the person or team with the most pairs of cards is the winner. This game is also called Memory.

Guess the Number:  Student stands with flashcard hidden by a folder so the other students can’t see the card.  Students ask, “Is it a 7? Is it an 8?” until the right answer is given. The student who guesses correctly keeps the card. Cards are counted at end of the game.  *Note: Only the student with the flashcard will actually be doing math but this will engage some children who like to have a little power and mystery.

Line Up:  Students are divided into two teams. Each team has the same flashcards, the same amount of flashcards, and table space.  When the teacher says to begin, each team has to line up the flashcards with the answers in order, lowest to highest.  Fastest team wins. Students at the front of the line go to the end.

Team Time:  Students line up in front of the teacher in two lines.  The teacher shows a flashcard. The first team to get the answer gets a point.  The first student may answer, or ask for assistance from his or her team.

Look, Look:  Teacher shows card for just a second and turns it away.  Students have to remember the problem and determine the answer.  First to answer correctly gets the card or a point.

Bump Math Fact Game Create Math Sentences

Bump — How to play: The game is for two players. Each player should have 10 markers.  Each player uses one color of marker.

When it is your turn, roll the number cube.

Cover your answer space with your marker.  If your partner is already on that number or word, you can bump your partner’s color and take their space.

Record the math in the space provided on the game sheet. Begin with 20 and subtract to none.

If you bump your partner, he or she takes back the marker and has a chance to use it again. If you roll an answer that you have already covered, you can stack another marker on top of it.

Any space with two markers stacked on top of each other is locked and that space can’t be bumped. The player to use all of his or her markers first is the winner. All answers will not be covered.


Or, place the game in a plastic sleeve and each player only needs one dry erase marker. Two different colors are needed for the two players. Players make a diagonal line through spaces landed on. When bumped, that player erases his or her line. Each player will need to tally ten turns on a separate piece of paper, and the answers colored by the marker can be counted during the game.

Subtraction Games

Our Premium Amember math page has a printable with a few paper and pencil games for additional practice for 20. Why does subtraction seem more difficult than addition to many children? Why does 20 seem like such a large number? Oh, well, they both seem that way, so practice we shall.

One game may be played by one student . . . or two might cooperate to finish the page. Round-up the facts to twenty is played by finding facts for that sum by highlighting or circling 2, 3, 4, or 5 addends in a row. Yes, this addition, so it might be played while the class is working towards subtraction for 20.

Subtraction Games for 20 Paper and Pencil PDF

Another game in the PDF is Race from 20 to None, which is subtraction. This is played by two students and directions are provided on the game page.

Subtraction Games for 20 Paper and Pencil PDF

Then students could slide from 20 down to zero, which again is subtraction. One or more players could work on this page at a time. If two different colors of highlighters or crayons are used to “slide” the color totals would indicate the winner.

Subtraction Games for 20 Paper and Pencil PDF

Thank you for reading! May the fact force be with you!