Teaching Subtraction by Trading – A Maths Lesson Plan for Years 2/3/4



In this maths lesson plan, students learn to rename/trade when subtracting. There are 2 really good Youtube videos that assist teachers in guiding their instruction, followed up with some differentiated practice.

Australian Curriculum Links:

Year 3 Mathematics:
  • Recall addition facts for single-digit numbers and related subtraction facts to develop increasingly efficient mental strategies for computation (ACMNA055)

Maths Lesson Plan:

Orientation  5 minutes

  • Focus: Students’ attention to board
  • Engage: Play subtraction song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvsEbrWV00E
  • Access: “Why is important to learn mental strategies to solve problems?” “What are mental strategies?”

Guided Discovery 15 mins

  • Have the class sitting in a circle on the floor. Solve an algorithm using MAB blocks and the trading system. Ask questions to guide the class, such as ‘what do I do next?”
  • Do the same algorithm on paper to enhance students’ understanding.  

Exploration 20 mins

  • Give students problems to solve students may use MAB blocks to help them solve the problems or simply use pencil and paper.


  • Support: Students having difficulty may use MAB blocks and teacher assistance will be provided.
  • Extend: Provide complex problems, such as subtraction with four digit numbers and subtraction across zeros.

Reflection  5 minutes

  • Share/Explain/Justify: Share and explain answers
  • Consolidate: Revise any confusion    
  • Reflect: Who found using MAB blocks was more helpful? Why/why not?
  • Challenge/Extend: Who thinks they can now go on to more challenging problems?


  • Observational checklists
  • Anecdotal notes





If you like this maths lesson plan, or have an idea to improve it, please consider sharing it on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook or leave a comment below.



Print Friendly, PDF & Email