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This play dough subtraction smash activity is a fun visual and tactile way for little kids to start learning subtraction!


  • Play dough, in four or five different colours
  • Cardstock or blank flashcards
  • Scissors (if using cardstock)
  • Marker
  • Plastic tray


  • Using blank flashcards or cardstock cut into squares, write out some basic subtraction questions using a marker.
  • Then, using different colours of play dough, make a whole bunch of small-ish balls.
  • Set up the play dough balls and equation cards (face down) on a plastic tray.
  • Get your child to start by flipping over an equation card and reading the question on it. Then, they can take the corresponding number of play dough balls and arrange them near the card.
  • Then get your child to “smash” the number of balls needed to complete the equation. Afterward, your child can tell you how many un-smashed dough balls are remaining that now match the equation.
  • Repeat as much as you like!
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