James took 87 cents to the shop and bought an apple. After that, he had 55 cents. How much was the apple?
Let’s read the question carefully and highlight the key numbers and words. We know that James began with 87 cents. We can write that down as the start of our calculations. Then he bought an apple. It doesn’t tell us how much the apple cost, but we know that he’s spent some money. So we need to subtract that from the 87 cents. And we can write minus in our calculation.
We don’t know how much the apple cost, but we do know the James had 55 cents left over. To help us find the missing number, we can change the order of the numbers in the calculation. We know that James had 87 cents to begin with. And if we change the order of the remaining two numbers and subtract 55 cents, this will tell us how much the apple cost.
We can calculate the answer using column subtraction and our knowledge of place value. We’ve written our calculation as column subtraction. We need to check that each digit is in the correct place in the place value chart. 87 has eight tens and seven ones. 55 has five tens and five ones.
Let’s start by subtracting in the ones column. Seven minus five is two. Then we can move into the tens column. Eight minus five is three. 87 minus 55 equals 32. The apple cost 32 cents.
We calculated our answer by changing the order of the numbers in the calculation. And we used column subtraction to find the answer.