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Algebra 1 - Operations with Integers - Subtraction

Grade Levels
5th - 8th
Resource Type
Formats Included
  • PDF
  • Activity
13 pages
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Easel Activity Included
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Also included in

  1. This bundled package includes:- Operations with Integers-Addition w/ Spanish translation - Operations with Integers—Subtraction w/ Spanish translation- Operations with Integers—Multiplication and Division w/ Spanish translation- A Powerpoint Lesson that coordinates with the above - Operations with
    Save $5.00
  2. The bundled package includesOperations with Integers - AdditionOperations with Integers - SubtractionOperations with Integers - Multiplication and DivisionPowerpoint Lesson that coordinates with the above three lessonsThese can all be purchased separately in my store.
    Save $2.90
  3. This bundle includes three Lessons:. · Operations with Integers—Addition· Operations with Integers—Subtraction· Operations with Integers—Multiplication and Division
    Save $1.05


This activity sheet engages students in using algebra tiles or colored disks to discover the rules for subtraction of signed integers.

First, students develop the rules using the color tiles to help them visualize the operation of subtraction. When students try to remove the chips, they are modeling the operation of subtraction. To be able to subtract discs from what is on the table it is necessary to add some zero pairs to the table. Zero pairs do not change the value of what is on the table. Each problem clearly states what must be removed and what must it be removed from.

The students are instructed to study six experiments:

1. Removing fewer yellow chips from more yellow chips

2. Removing fewer red chips from more red chips

3. Removing more yellow chips from fewer yellow chips

4. Removing more red chips from fewer red chips

5. Removing more red chips from fewer yellow chips

6. Removing more yellow chips from fewer red chips

Students observe patterns in their answers. They understand that experiment 1 will have an answer that is yellow chips, experiment 2 will have an answer that is red chips. This is true because what each problem started with and what was being removed. They notice that experiment 3 had answers that were yellow chips and that experiment 4 had answers that were red chips. This was true because zero pairs were needed to complete the subtraction. Then experiment 5 had answers that were yellow chips and experiment 6 had answer that were red chips. Again these answers were controlled by the zero pairs that were used to complete the subtraction.

After studying these results of the six experiments students begin to generalize what they saw happening. Students change problems from chips to negative and positive numbers. When the problem says remove three yellow from five yellow chips student visualize they are solving the problem (+5) - (+3). They visualize the answer is two yellow or +2. Similar visualization takes place when the are removing two red chips from one yellow chip. They realize they are solving the problem (+1) - (-2). They realize they will need to add two zero pairs to the table to complete the subtraction , so the answer will be three yellow discs or +3.

Extension problems have students extend the rules to decimals and fractions. The emphasis is on determining the sign of the answer based upon what numbers they are given.

A Spanish translation is included.

A digital form is also included for this product now.

Comment from a buyer:

• Thank you!

• Thanks!

• Awesome resource!

• Looking forward to using this!

• Also, another good way to show the process with manipulatives.

• Thanks for making my work easier!!

• Love practicing with manipulatives

Total Pages
13 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
55 minutes
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Understand subtraction of rational numbers as adding the additive inverse, 𝘱 – 𝘲 = 𝘱 + (–𝘲). Show that the distance between two rational numbers on the number line is the absolute value of their difference, and apply this principle in real-world contexts.
Understand 𝘱 + 𝘲 as the number located a distance |𝘲| from 𝘱, in the positive or negative direction depending on whether 𝘲 is positive or negative. Show that a number and its opposite have a sum of 0 (are additive inverses). Interpret sums of rational numbers by describing real-world contexts.
Describe situations in which opposite quantities combine to make 0. For example, a hydrogen atom has 0 charge because its two constituents are oppositely charged.
Apply and extend previous understandings of addition and subtraction to add and subtract rational numbers; represent addition and subtraction on a horizontal or vertical number line diagram.


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