Winter Subtraction Activity for Kinders (Free Printable)

Winter is a great time to work on some subtraction skills! Our free snowman winter subtraction activity is perfect for Kinders. It uses manipulatives to help students visualize the process of subtracting numbers. Perfect for homeschool or traditional classroom. Grab your copy today.

This activity works well with these Simply Kinder resources:

Just when your students have started to get the hang of addition, it’s time to move on to subtraction! Of course, we know that addition and subtraction are inverse operations. If 3+7 +10, then we know that 10-7=3. It sounds easy enough, but it can be anything but simple for our concrete learners.

It’s no secret that subtraction can be a challenging concept for Kinders to grasp. It can be tricky for students to get the idea of “taking away” when they have focused on adding numbers together. We are basically asking them to reverse their thinking, and it will take time for them to do this.

Your students will need plenty of hands-on activities before they can grasp how subtraction works.

This free snowman subtraction activity is a fun and engaging way for kids to learn how to subtract. They’ll love working with these adorable little snowmen, and you’ll love how engaged they are as they learn this important math skill.

Before we look at the printable, let’s take a quick look at how we teach subtraction at the Kindergarten level.

pinterest pin showcasing the winter subtraction activity

How Do You Teach Kindergarten Subtraction?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as each classroom and teacher will have their own methods and approaches. The best way to help Kinders understand is to use many different hands-on activities. These allow them to see and experience what it means to take away one number from another.

child using snowman subtraction mat

Free Winter Subtraction Activity

It is always fun to incorporate some seasonal activities into your classroom. With this in mind, we are excited to share these adorable and free winter Snowman Subtraction Mats with you! These smiling snowmen are a fun way to help your Kinders learn to subtract.

The mats are perfect for both kindergarten and 1st-grade students. They can be used in centers, small groups, or even sent home for extra practice. We hope that your students enjoy using them! They are super easy to prepare. Just print the winter snowman mats and worksheets. Then grab some buttons or pom-poms, and you are ready to go.

Materials Needed

  • Snowman Subtraction Mats (see download button below)
  • Copy Paper
  • Small buttons, counters, or pom poms
  • Laminator (optional)
  • Dice


  • Print the snowman subtraction mats and worksheets.
  • Laminate the snowman mats for durability (optional).
  • If you don’t have a laminator, place the snowman mats in sheet protectors.
  • Place some small buttons, counters, or pom-poms in a basket with the dice.
close up of snowman subtraction mat

Using the Winter Subtraction Activity

There are two activities for using the subtraction mats.

Worksheets with subtraction sums

Give each student a snowman mat, some buttons, and a worksheet. Demonstrate how to use the manipulatives to model the starting number of buttons on the snowman.

So if the subtraction problem is 5-3, we start with 5 buttons on the snowman. Oh no! 3 buttons popped off and got lost. Remove 3 buttons and then count what is left of the mat.

5 buttons less 3 buttons leaves 2 buttons. 5 take away 3 equals 2

Then fill out the equation on the worksheet.

close up of winter subtraction activity worksheet

Worksheet with no sums

The second activity uses the worksheet with spaces to write in the equations. Students will roll dice to get the numbers to work with. Students need to understand the concept of the larger number to do this activity.

Give each student a snowman mat, some buttons, a blank worksheet, and two dice. Instruct the child to roll both dice. Use the larger number as the starting point and write it at the start of the equation in the first box on the worksheet.

The great thing about this worksheet is that you can use 12 sided or even 20 sided dice as the students progress. The smaller number is the number of buttons that will be taken away. Write it in the 2nd blank space of the equation. Now do the sum as detailed above.

pinterest pin showcasing the winter subtraction activity

What Is A Fun Way To Teach Subtraction?

At this level, we concentrate on two types of subtraction problems. These are taking from and taking apart. We do this by

  • Role-playing the problems with our bodies
  • Acting out the subtraction problems with manipulatives
  • Encouraging students to create math stories and draw subtraction pictures.

As we do those things, we continually write out the equations so that our students can connect the hands-on experience with the numbers. Here are some fun ways to teach subtraction.

Role Play Subtraction Stories

We want to make teaching subtraction as hands-on and fun as possible. You can start by role-playing stories with the students themselves. Have them come up to the front of the room, for example.

Six children were playing hand-clapping games. Two children left to get their lunch. How many children were left playing?

You can do the same with puppets and small stuffed animals. Invite students to make up their own subtraction stories to role play.

Click here to find some more subtraction activities.

Use Music

Use a subtraction song such as five little speckled frogs and ask students to play the part of the frogs.

Here is another subtraction song

Enjoy Some Videos

There are some great subtraction videos for free on YouTube. You can find a list of the best ones in our teacher-approved list of subtraction videos.

Use Games and Activities

This is probably where the bulk of the work will take place. Games and activities give lots of hands-on practice as children develop number sense and understanding. Here are some great products to help.

Children in kindergarten are often learning about subtraction for the first time. It can be a little tricky at first, but they will slowly develop their skills as they practice. The winter-themed printable we’ve provided is designed as a hands-on activity. Using the manipulatives will help your students experience what happens when you subtract one number from another. We hope that our winter subtraction activity helps your Kinders master this critical skill! Let us know if you have any questions or feedback in the comments below.

pinterest pin showcasing the winter subtraction activity
At Simply Kinder we work together to bring you ready-to-use resources to partner with great teaching for any curriculum, a Facebook community where teachers talk all things Kindergarten, and low-prep learning ideas that your students will love. Be sure to stay up to date with all things kindergarten on InstagramFacebookPinterest, and through email. Simply Kinder: where teaching Kinder is definitely better together!

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