Video: Writing Subtraction Equations for Word Problems Represented by Pictures

This garden had 5 flowers. Then, Jennifer picked 2 flowers. How many flowers are left in the garden?

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Video Transcript

This garden had five flowers. Then, Jennifer picked two flowers. How many flowers are left in the garden?

To solve this problem, it would be helpful if we had a number sentence or equation. Then we’d know what to do with the numbers. Should we add them? Or should we take them away? The first thing we need to do is to read the problem carefully and to think to ourselves, is this an addition or a subtraction problem?

The first thing we’re told is that the garden had five flowers. We could use five counters to represent our five flowers. Then we’re told that Jennifer picked two flowers. Now, does this mean that Jennifer added another two flowers to the five flowers that were already there? If so, we need to work out the answer to five add two. Or does it mean that Jennifer took away two flowers from the five that were already there? In which case we need to work out five subtract two.

Well, of course, if somebody picks some flowers, the group of flowers is going to get less. We know this because the question asks us how many flowers are left in the garden. When something’s left behind, it’s after we’ve taken something away. So to find the answer, we need to work out five take away two. And if we look at our counters, we can see that we have three left. Five take away two equals three. We can use the picture to check. There are three flowers left behind.

Because this problem was all about somebody picking flowers out of a garden, we decided it was going to be a subtraction sentence that we needed to write. The number of flowers that are left in the garden is the same as five take away two, which equals three.

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