Here’s an awesome subtraction game with a cool counting money twist.
The great thing about this math card game is that it doesn’t feel math-y at all. Kids love it because they get to run their fingers through actual money (mwa-ha-ha!) and get paid by their opponent.
What’s not to like?
Meanwhile, you’ll be smugly watching her get better at counting money and subtracting numbers in her head–without even realizing it!
HOW TO PLAY “PAY THE DIFFERENCE” SUBTRACTION GAME
AGES: 8-11 years (variation for younger kids below)
BEST FOR: subtraction practice, counting money, understanding the concept of “difference”
PREP: You’ll need a deck of cards with face cards and 10s removed, and $4.00 in mixed coins.
(I went to the bank and asked for $4 in mixed coins, then kept them in a jar for kids’ games and practice counting money.)
- Give $2.00 in coins to each player. Put the deck face down on the table.
- Each player takes two cards from the pile. Use these to make a two-digit number, like 63.
- Players tell each other their numbers.
- Next, the players figure out the difference between their numbers. For whatever reason, most kids prefer to do this subtraction in their head, which is awesome.
- The player with the lower number pays that amount of money to the other player.
- For example, if the numbers were 64 and 31, the player with the lower number would pay the other player 33 cents.
- Play until all the cards are used up or someone runs out of money.
PLAYING WITH YOUNGER KIDS
The littles love this game too, but the two-digit subtraction is a bit hard for kids under the age of 8. Here are some variations to try:
EASIEST: Take out the face cards but leave in the tens. Play as above, but give each player a dollar in dimes and pennies, and draw just one card from the pile.
So instead of comparing numbers like 32 and 91, in this subtraction game they’ll find the difference between 3 and 9.
SLIGHTLY HARDER: Leave in the face cards and the tens. Face cards are worth ten. Give each player a dollar in mixed coins.
Draw TWO cards from the pile and add them together. Players will find the difference between numbers like 18 and 12.
A QUICK NOTE ON SUBTRACTION “DIFFERENCE”
Kids learn subtraction as take away, but subtraction can also be used to find the difference between two numbers, or how much more one number is than another.
Think of it like two rows of dots. They all line up exactly, except for the part where one number is a little bigger.
This is the difference between the two numbers.
Make a point of asking things like, “What’s the difference between 18 and 12?” This will help her make the connection between difference and subtraction.