subtraction games, subtraction math facts, subtraction games and apps, 2nd grade math

Subtraction and Adding to Ten Math Facts Games

Subtraction Math Facts Practice Made FUN!

Now that I’ve attended two school curriculum nights, it’s clear that the teachers want us to practice math facts at home. I am noticing that all three of my kids have the most difficulty with subtraction. Addition is intuitively more obvious and multiplication is really just more addition. My kids less  confused by the idea of division, at least until they hit long division. Division is regrouping and can be reverse engineered through multiplication.

But subtraction is the stickler. If my kids don’t immediately know the subtraction fact, their first instinct is to add. If it’s a carry subtraction problem, their first instinct is two switch the numbers to a non-carry subtraction problem.

I read that some schools (Waldorf comes to mind) actually teach math in the order of addition THEN multiplication and THEN subtraction and now I can see why this makes perfect sense. Nevertheless, subtraction is what 2nd grade is focusing on here in Newton so that is what we will work on at home.

Another thing: some math fact apps don’t let you choose by math operation. You have to “earn” your way to subtraction by going through all the levels of subtraction first. Which means … lots of addition math fact practice but still not subtraction! I’m screening out those apps and focusing on just a few of our favorites.


For my 2nd grader, I want him to master two concepts this school year:

1) Add to 10. Fluency in the math facts that add to ten will make more complicated addition easier as he progresses.

2) Subtraction math facts through 20.


Add to 10 Math Facts Games

Add to Ten Dinner Table Game. Use 10 beans, coins or other small objects. Divide between two closed fists. Now open one hand. Show your child the objects and ask how many are in the other hand. Put your hands behind your back and redistribute objects again. This is surprisingly addictive! Thanks to my mom friend Jenifer who used to teach 1st grade for this idea!

Adding to 10 Free Web Game. Fire the Ball game from Cool Math Games. We were assigned this game as part of summer homework years ago and this was probably our favorite game from the many, many problems we did.

add to ten math game, free math games, addition to 10,


Subtraction Math Facts Games and Apps

Free Web Subtraction Game from Academic Skills Builder

Minus Mission

Minus Mission provides practice with subtraction in a creeping slime theme. Large green slime at the top of the screen drips blobs with subtraction problems toward a robot at the bottom.

Island Chase Subtraction
Island Chase Subtraction is a multi-player racing game (up to four players) that allows students from anywhere in the world to race one another while practicing their subtaction facts!
Ducky Race
Ducky Race is a multi-player game (up to twelve player)  that allows students from anywhere in the world to compete against one another while practicing subtraction!
Sailboat Subtraction
Sailboat Subtraction is a multi-player game (up to eight players) that allows students from anywhere in the world to play tug of war with each other while practicing their subtraction facts!

Subtraction Apps for iPhone or iPad

I realize that most of the math facts apps CAN be set to just subtraction which is the opposite of what my little boy has told me! I think he just prefers to add because there is no way anyone can convince me that he just didn’t realize that it could be set to subtraction given the amount he spends on gamings apps and his ability to play on apps! He’s a tricky one, my little guy!

subtraction math facts apps, math apps for kids, math facts apps, subtraction appMath Ninja

My son’s favorite gaming math game is Math Ninja. You throw stars at cat and dog bots to destroy them.  Then to earn more weapons, you need to solve math facts. I set the game to just subtraction by turning off addition, multiplication and division. There is a free version and a paid version. We have both!

pop math, bubble math, popping bubbles math fact app, math apps for kidsPop Math

Everyone’s favorite math app seems to be Pop Math. There is something mesmerizing about popping bubbles. You can set this app just to subtraction.

Column Subtraction by IDevBooks

Once your child has the hang of one and two digit subtraction, the next step is column subtraction but without borrowing.

Trade First Subtraction
by IDev Books

I like this app a lot for carry subtraction because it adds an extra step asking if you need to borrow or not. This is good practice for kids to think through subtraction. It is not a gaming app however so it’s less appealing to kids.


Free Subtraction Worksheets

Sometimes old-fashioned worksheets do the trick. Make it fun by timing it. I don’t know why, but kids love to be timed! Our teacher from first grade says you pass when you can do the worksheet in under a minute with 2 mistakes or less.

These worksheets come in a variety of formats including with dominos or dots for help counting, multi-column and missing numbers.

I would personally just used the timed sheets after we’ve worked on subtraction for while using the web games and apps. There also might be a prize involved!


I will be testing out these games, apps, and math worksheets this academic year with my son and will report back on what he liked, and fought me on and what actually worked to solidify his subtraction and add-to-ten math facts. Hopefully, this will not be too painful as we will focus on gaming via the free web sites and the apps which we already own.

What games, apps, or techniques do you use to work on subtraction and adding to ten? Please share!!!

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Artchoo!

    I don’t like the apps that make you work up starting with addition, either. Thanks for the list; good to see Pop Math still hanging in there.
    Artchoo! recently posted…8 Excellent Latino Picture BooksMy Profile

    • Hi Artchoo!,
      My son deleted Pop Math from my iPhone so I made him reload it and try it out again. He does like popping the bubbles but Math Ninja is his favorite. I have to sit on him though to make him set it to just subtraction and he will mentally try to add subtraction problems just because it’s easier for him. Our school year task is to play these games. It shouldn’t be too much of a burden though for my screen time gaming son!

  2. Liz

    My girls love math rider, not an app but a very well done, timed math game I downloaded. You are on a quest, jumping hurdles on your horse, doing facts along the way, you set levels and it tracks progress. Great game, worth the money.

  3. Jenn

    Thanks for this post. I am homeschooling a second grader and can’t wait to check out some of these apps. We have used math wrap ups with great success. They are a hands on activity you can take in the car or wherever. They really worked for us.
    Jenn recently posted…Plum Bunny by Kate Quinn at 50% OffMy Profile

    • Hi Jenn,
      I forgot about Math Wrap ups! Thanks for the reminder. I think we have 3 of them! I need to find them and use them for my son’s subtraction practice and my daughter’s multiplication practice. The apps and free web games are great when your child wants something that feels fun but is still a math facts game.

  4. Janet

    Thanks for all the great ideas and links. I have a daughter with Down syndrome, and math is the most difficult subject to teach her. She’s been doing a lot better with math since we changed her curriculum to Time4Learning, but I still like to do some hands-on math with her. I’ll be using some of the ideas here. Thanks again!!

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