Let's help your 2nd graders master their basic subtraction facts this year with these 2nd grade math subtraction worksheets! They're the perfect way to develop real math fact fluency and reinforce tried-and-true mental math strategies that really work!
Teaching the basic operations is a huge part of primary math instruction. What they say about starting slow to go fast is true. These essential math skills become the underlying foundation for multiplication, division, and algebraic thinking in the later years. It's vital to start strong!
Like reading, there is a proper way to teach math in the early years. Start with concrete skills before you move to abstract ones, and prioritise what your students already know. This means your second graders need to have lots of time getting hands-on, moving and manipulating pieces, drawing pictures, and using visual models. The more fun and engaging, the better!
Our goal is to prepare students to learn subtraction skills in a deep way. We want them to be flexible and fluent mathematicians who have a variety of strategies to solve every problem. This approach not only builds confidence; it also helps your students understand the concept of subtraction in different ways. This gives them an incredibly strong foundation for mathematical thinking they can tap into at any time.
Fortunately, I have a bunch of fantastic, evidence-based resources to support you along the way, especially in The Hive. I've created complete systems for teaching 1st and 2nd Grade math - with mini units for every content strand, including digital slides, task cards, worksheets, posters, lesson plans, and so much more.
There are even apps and videos you can add to your daily schedule automatically with our scheduling tools - we are all about working smarter, not harder!
Best 2nd Grade Math Subtraction Worksheets & Resources
Below, you'll find a wide variety of subtraction strategies worksheets grouped by the specific strategies. They're arranged in order of complexity, starting with visual examples and 1-digit numbers, then moving up to 3-digit numbers and beyond.
Want your students to get more support at home? This printable Mental Math Strategies handout is a fantastic way to model and explain how we teach these concepts at school so families can help them practice at home as well. They're great for conferences, too!
There are so many great interactive tools to help your students learn subtraction, but I highly recommend starting with physical or visual models! Use concrete items they can touch, feel, or manipulate. Let your kids move beads, flip cards, or count the dots on domino tiles. (P.S. There are also digital counters, playing cards, dominos, rekenreks, abacuses, and more available instantly on The Hive!)
- Domino Subtraction - Subtraction is about finding the missing part. Dominoes make it easy to see that concept in action. Get them counting those dots, too!
- Card Flip Subtraction Mats - This game is so easy to adapt for kindergarten, 1st grade, and 2nd grade, and there are 8 different ways to play it. I love it for independent practice!
- Bead Subtraction - Kids love the bright colours on these math sheets, and they're a great way to visualise the different parts that make up the whole.
Number bonds are a fantastic strategy for subtraction practice as they very clearly represent subtraction as removing a part from a whole. Your students will also be familiar with this strategy from earlier grades and learning addition, so it's a great way to connect their new learning to their prior knowledge. Instead of adding both parts to the bottom circles, they'll add the known part to one circle and the sum at the top.
This little shift really reinforces the conceptual difference between addition and subtraction.
- Number Bond Subtraction Worksheets - These fun worksheets are especially fantastic for working through subtraction word problems! Read the problem, pull out the important numbers, and figure out where to place them.
Fact Families & Inverse Operations
Since students learn best when you start from what they know, it's incredibly important to incorporate addition facts into your math lessons! They need to recognise the relationship between 6+4=10 and 10-6=4. This can be done in many different ways, including fact families and inverse operations.
We typically start by teaching the fact families within 10, then moving to 20, and then you can incorporate these skills in more complex problems. These math problems are fantastic for morning work or review once your students get the hang of them!
Your students already spent so much time learning their doubles in 1st Grade. Let's tap into that knowledge this year! We typically teach this method like fact families since it's all about the relationship between addition and subtraction. It's one of the best starting places for teaching two-digit addition.
Base 10 Method
This is a popular method you've probably used before! It builds on your students' place value skills and uses base-ten blocks. Start by showing the whole number as represented by the tens and ones, then remove the part you know to reveal the difference. This can be challenging, especially when it requires regrouping, but it makes it very clear exactly what is happening to the numbers.
When ready, use these Base 10 Subtraction Worksheets to put their skills to the test!
Bridging to 10
Subtraction really starts to get tricky when you move on two-digit numbers. Breaking apart tens is really confusing! Fortunately, the Bridging to 10 Method is absolutely fantastic for this exact purpose and can really help your students strengthen their number sense even with larger numbers.
With this strategy, start by subtracting ones until you can reach the next ten. Then, continue subtracting until you solve the problem. Add the two amounts you subtracted to get the correct answer for the missing part.
For example, if you are subtracting 15-6, break the 6 apart into a 5 and a 1. Subtract 15-5 to get 10, then subtract the remaining 1 to reach 9. It mixes number bonds and Friends of 10, making it a great strategy for when you first move to two-digit numbers!
Similar to some of the other strategies, the Jump Strategy is a fun way to use addition to solve more complex subtraction problems. There are several ways to use this method, but essentially, you're trying to find the difference between the part you know and the whole to find the missing part. If you know that 59-X=22, you can add tens and then ones to 22 until you reach 59 or subtract tens and ones from 59 until you reach 22. It's a really powerful method that works incredibly well, especially with larger numbers.
Add these Jump Strategy posters to your math center to help your students remember how the method works! They are a FREE download in the Freebee Library.
The visual model of a number line is such a helpful way to help students add and subtract flexibly! Once your students are comfortable with the jump strategy, you can have them use it with a regular number line for a wide variety of subtraction equations.
My free Number Line Subtraction Cards come in three different levels:
- Subtracting 1 digit from 2-digit numbers
- Subtracting 2 digits from 2-digit numbers
- Subtracting 2 digits from 3-digit numbers
They are all available as a Hive exclusive, and there are also Number Line Subtraction Worksheets for extra practice.
This is one of the very best strategies for 2nd Grade subtraction, and it's great for supporting mental math! Instead of lining up the tens and ones in regular two column subtraction, subtract within the tens and ones in their heads.
For example, if your student is subtracting 57-25, then you can start by subtracting 2 tens from 5 tens (3 tens) and then 5 ones from 7 ones (2 ones). This will give them a solution of 32 with no regrouping, unbundling, or confusion.
Of course, it does get more complicated when the first number is smaller than the second number, but I've got plenty of tips and tricks to support you along the way in these free Digital Slides.
- Split Strategy Posters - free download from the Freebee Library
More Subtraction Worksheets & Games
Beyond The Hive, there are still plenty of great 2nd Grade math worksheets available for free in my Freebees!
These free subtraction worksheets are a great way to practice the jump strategy or number lines from above. They can easily be printed on cardboard and used again and again!
The free printable worksheets are always a hit! After solving the subtraction problems, they colour in the shapes to complete the picture. The problems include subtracting one-digit numbers and some two-digit numbers, too. This bundle includes several other skills as well and is great for 1st Grade math or refreshing those early skills.
These interactive activities are a great way to get your kids hands-on and practice subtraction at the same time! They go up to 20, so they're great for Kindergarten, First Grade, or the beginning of the year Second Grade math.
I hope these 2nd Grade math subtraction worksheets help this year! These methods are incredibly powerful and will help set your students up for success this year and beyond.
More in The Hive
If you get stuck, there are lesson plans and guides to walk you through each strategy on The Hive.
You'll also find loads of interactive maths apps to support your lessons. Here are a few of our favourites!