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Learning Objectives

With teacher assistance and through guided reading, students will learn how to subtract within 10.  As a Social Studies Lesson extension, they will learn about different canine careers.

Grade Levels


Common Core Standards


Represent addition and subtraction with objects, fingers, mental images, drawings, sounds (e.g., claps), acting out situations, verbal explanations, expressions, or equations.


Solve addition and subtraction word problems, and add and subtract within 10, e.g., by using objects or drawings to represent the problem.

Materials Needed

Snap cube Manipulatives

Mini white boards

Dry erase markers

White board erasers

Hardworking Puppies by Lynn Reiser (multiple copies if available)


Introduction and Teacher Modeling

  • Begin the lesson by asking students if they have a dog and to briefly share their experiences.
  • Next, tell the students that they will be reading a book together about dogs or canines that have very important jobs and will be learning about subtraction.
  • Briefly discuss the term “subtraction.” Have the word written on the board to reference, along with subtraction sign (-) and equal sign (=).
  • Hand out materials per student: white board, eraser, dry erase marker, manipulative cubes (10 each)
  • Students will be working individually at their seats while the teacher reads during guided practice below.

Guided Practice

  • Before reading the book, ensure that students have their materials ready.
  • Begin reading the book, Hardworking Puppies by Lynn Reiser. The book begins with 10 puppies.  It then counts down from ten to zero as each puppy pairs up with a hardworking human, resulting in a reverse counting format.
  • During reading, stop on each page that depicts subtraction (10 puppies-1 puppy= 9 puppies, 9-1=8, 8-1=7, and so forth).
  • Model each subtraction problem using cube manipulatives and have students show you with their manipulatives. For examples, 10 cubes take away or subtract 1 cube now leaves or equals 9 cubes.  Relate to the puppies.
  • Model the subtraction problem on the board, writing out the numerals. Have students write the problem out on their dry erase boards underneath their manipulatives.
  • Repeat until the book is finished and there are zero puppies left.

Independent Work

  • If there are extra copies of the book available, students can work in groups to reread the book and review the subtraction again with partners using manipulatives and their white boards.
  • Individually, students will create their own puppy subtraction equations to share with a partner (ex. 10 puppies- 2 puppies= ____ puppies). The partner will then solve the equation.  Students will need to use their manipulatives for assistance.
  • The teacher can also provide equations for the students to solve independently on the board. Teacher can observe student’s work to gauge understanding of concept.

Review and Closing

  • Have a closing discussion about the meaning of subtraction and terminology.
  • Have each student share one thing that they learned and what their favorite working dog was.

Lesson Extension

  • As a Social Studies extension, the teacher can discuss the different types of jobs that the dogs had in the book, along with the men and women that worked alongside them. The teacher can show the students certain breeds utilizing the AKC Breeds web page at, such as a Dalmatian (firefighter) and a German Shepard (K-9).
  • As an activity, students can create mini books highlighting each dog and their specific job/role in the community on each page.


Dog Breeds. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Reiser, L. (2006). Hardworking Puppies. San Diego, CA: Harcourt.