Here's what we did. You could easily do this with a set of cards you make...but I used the cards from my Precision Practice resource (this activity is listed at the beginning as one of the extra activities) because we had just used the cards a few weeks ago and, in typical fashion, they were not yet put away! I have probably used them 8-10 times since the start of the school year in different ways--but this was a new one for us!
The directions were simple: Students worked in pairs to draw two cards (I used 3 different levels of cards and students picked their own level of challenge--3 digit, 4 digit, or 5 digit). Each child found the difference between the two cards, and then compared answers.
If they both got the problem right, one teammate went to the smartboard and added two tallies to our "class challenge". If they did NOT both get it right but were able to work together to figure out where the error was, they got to put up ONE tally. I really stress how important it is to be able to make mistakes--and to be willing to hunt out how to fix them so this activity was PERFECT for that!
I set the timer for 15 minutes and the teams worked to earn as many tallies as they could in 15 minutes. When they finished we looked at the tallies, estimated how many there were, and then made groups of 10 to get the grand total.
We could have done a subtraction practice sheet--but WHY? Students got a ton of practice...and the added benefit of troubleshooting mistakes. It was a great kick off to get our brains ready for our lesson today--subtracting across multiple zeroes. Give it a try and see what you think! My students asked when we could do it again!
Looking for the Precision Practice resource that I used? It includes this and many other activities to practice addition and subtraction in challenging and unusual ways. Just click the image below to see more. (Also available in multiplication)