Know Your Signs: Addition and Subtraction

Contributor: Samantha Penna. Lesson ID: 11815

You've seen Stop signs, Yield signs, Exit signs, and Arrow signs. They tell you what to do! Math problems have signs too, that tell you what to do to get the right answer! Play online games and learn!


Arithmetic, Operations and Algebraic Thinking

learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Primary (K-2)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!


Signs often tell us to do something.

  • What is the difference between an addition sign and a subtraction sign?
  •  What do they tell you to do?

There are many different signs you will see when you solve a math problem.

This lesson explores two common signs you will see while solving math problems.

The first sign is an addition sign.

An addition sign tells you to add two numbers together. When you see this sign, you should always combine the numbers to find your answer.

The subtraction sign tells you to take away from the first number in the problem.

For example, if you had three minus one (3 - 1), you would take 1 away from 3.

Take a look at the addition problems below. These problems all have the same sign (the addition sign).

In each problem, both of the numbers are added (combined):

1 + 1 = 2

3 + 2 = 5

6 + 4 = 10

9 + 2 = 11

5 + 3 = 8

Take a look at the subtraction problems below. All of these problems have a subtraction sign. This means you take away from the first number.

Look at how all the problems are solved below:

1 - 1 = 0

3 - 2 = 1

6 - 4 = 2

9 - 2 = 7

5 - 3 = 2

All of the problems in each example box include the same sign. The only things that changed were the numbers and answers.

As you can see, you always have to look out for the sign in the problem.

If you don't pay attention to the signs, you may get the wrong answer, just like if you don't do what a traffic sign says, you may have a REAL problem!

In the next section, you will solve some addition and subtraction problems.

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