Here’s a subtraction game that kids will love, and it involves very little prep work. This hands-on math game is perfect for first graders who are learning subtraction and second graders who need some review. It’s so much more fun to learn with an activity than a worksheet, am I right?

This subtraction game is based on the concept of finding the difference. There are two ways to use subtraction to solve math problems. One is to find out how many are left after some have been taken away, and the other is to find the difference between two numbers. It’s easy for kids to understand taking away. If you tell a child to imagine they have 8 cookies but ate 2 of them, it’s easy for them to figure out how many are left. But if we ask them what the difference is between 8 and 2, that is a harder concept.

This game will make it easy to visualize “finding the difference!”

Here’s how to play Find the Difference Face Off!

First, grab your supplies. You’ll need some math cubes (or LEGO bricks, more on that below), a recording sheet (print below), a pencil, and a die. We used a 12-sided math die, but if you don’t have one of those you can use two dice.

Kids may also want to pick an action figure or something similar to be their “guy.” We grabbed some of our Pipe Cleaner Superheroes to be our competitors.

To play the game, each player will roll the dice and then build a tower with that number of math cubes.

Then it’s time for a FACE OFF! Which tower is taller? How much taller? What is the difference between the two towers?

The difference between 10 and 3 is 7. Write on the recording sheet 10 – 3 = 7.

Then play another round!

When we started this game, my 7 year old didn’t quite understand what I was asking when I said, “What is the difference between 12 and 8?” After we had played a few rounds of this game, I asked my 7 year old how he could figure out the difference between the two towers. He said, “Well, both towers have 3, so the difference is this top part.” That was a good way to put it!

Janie and Jonathan thought it was fun to keep track of who “won” each round. If kids want to, they can draw a star next to each math sentence where they were the winner. (It came out about even for us.)

Use LEGO® bricks instead of math cubes!

Janie and Jonathan chose to switch to LEGO® because they thought it would be more fun! Grab a bunch of 2 x 2 bricks and a plate (flat brick) for each player to use.

Ready to print your own recording sheets?

Click the link below. The file will open and you can print from there!

CLICK HERE: Find the Difference Face Off

Need more math activity ideas?

Here are 20+ Hands-On Elementary Math Activities

LEGO® Place Value – Here’s a fun hands-on activity for learning place value!

LEGO® Math Challenge Cards – for first and second grade!


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  1. BECKY DELLAR Oct 30, 2019

    The link to your printable here isnt working! here is the broken link:

    Your content is fantastic!!

    1. Sarah Oct 30, 2019

      So sorry! I fixed it, and it's working now. A few of my files stopped working during a site update a few weeks ago, and I haven't found all the errors yet. Thank you for letting me know!

  2. Linda L Thull Apr 12, 2021

    I absolutely love your emails and your projects. Even though we are still working with kids through zoom, I figure out a way to use so many on my lesson plans. This scavenger hunt is great! Thank you !


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