How to Make Free Math Subtraction Flash Cards

Use these cards as a study tool at home and school

Manipulatives and Abacus Can Teach Math
A Girl Works a Math Problem. Credit: Getty Images

Math flash cards can teach your child subtraction skills, an important foundation for the future arithmetic abilities your child will need to learn in school.

Flash cards can be effective tools for teaching subtraction and many other types of skills to grade school children and older students. Although flash cards are widely available online, in book stores and education stores, there's no need to buy them.

Together, you and your child can make subtraction flash cards at home with the easy tips that follow.

Tips for Making Math Flash Cards

When you make flash cards for subtraction, you'll want your child to get used to equations that feature a wide range of numbers. As a result, you'll want to create cards that cover subtraction with numbers 1 - 12. Make two sets of these cards. One set will have the answers on the back and the others will be blank.

In the beginning, when your child is just beginning to learn the concept of subtraction, you'll probably want her to see the answers. This will get your child used to the idea that 8 - 4 = 4 or that 12 - 4 = 8. As your child gets the hang of subtraction, you can begin to use the blank cards with your child.

If your child is using flash cards by herself, she might want to use the cards with the answers on back. She can simply hold the card up with the equation, try to figure it out in her head or on a piece of paper and then turn the card around to see the answer.

The good thing about flash cards is that they don't require adult supervision. A child can practice with her siblings, her friends or by herself if she chooses. However, parents and caregivers should still be available to help explain concepts to the child, if need be.

The Risks of Rote Memorization

Now that most states have adopted the Common Core State Standards to give children across the country educational guidelines in math, language arts and other subjects, educators have pushed back on teaching children rote memorization.

That's because the Common Core standards first and foremost focus on having children tap into their analytical thinking skills.

Under these new guidelines, a child shouldn't just be able to answer that 7 - 5 = 2 but be able to explain why, illustrate why or devise other subtraction equations in which the answer is two as well. So, while flash cards are a good learning tool, it's important to make sure that a child understands the concepts behind the equations. Even a low tech tool, such as an abacus, can help children understand a concept such as subtraction.

Printing Subtraction Flash Cards

Create your flash cards in a file that prints two pages. You can print the whole set or select specific ones your child needs practice with. Want to save on the cost of printing? Print your cards using the "draft quality" setting for your printer.

Draft quality uses less ink but produces copies that are a little lighter than regular copies. These will work just fine for flash cards. After printing the cards, you may want to laminate them to prevent wear and tear.

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