Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Stairway Subtraction

My son was bouncing a ball off of the stairs the other day when I had a little epiphany. I whipped up some labels with numbers, printed them on sticker paper, and this little activity was born.

What You Need
A small ball
Number labels for the stairway
Paper and pencil for scorekeeping

How to Play
Stand at the bottom of the stairs and toss a small ball (ours was a hacky sack) up the steps. Pay attention to the step it lands on first.

Keep Score
Each round, write the number of the step that the player’s ball lands off first (e.g. stair No. 20). Then, from that number subtract the number of the step (e.g. stair No. 17) where the ball stops. The answer to the subtraction problem (e.g. 20 - 17 =) is the player’s score (3) for that round. 

If the player tosses a ball and it stays on one step, the answer is zero (e.g. 18 - 18 = 0). Play five to 10 rounds. Add the rounds together for the player’s final score.

How to Win
The player with the smallest score wins.

We played twice. I wish this blog had audio so you could have heard the hoots and hollers we both made as we had good (and especially bad) tosses.

Math can be fun. My son has taught me that.


  1. This is a great idea. We don't have stairs but the tiles in our flat would do just great!

  2. Again, another creative idea! Thanks for sharing and stop by my Blog anytime! SMILES!

  3. Excellent! Thank you!

  4. Love this! I also do somethign similar with counting 10s and 5s up and down its so kinethetic but never thought for subtraction =)


  5. I just recently found your blog and am in heaven! You have so many awesome ideas! I've made a list and am slowly trying them out with my daughter. Thanks so much for sharing you wonderful creativity.

  6. I am definitely going to have to try this before school starts. I love how you are always so successful in making learning fun!

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