Home » Math » FREE Subtracting with Unlike Denominators Activity

Grab these adorable snowmen to help children model subtracting with, unlike denominators. They are a fun, visual way to practice this skill.

Grab these adorable snowmen to help children model subtracting with, unlike denominators. They are a fun, visual way to practice this skill.

You can get this FREE printable by clicking on the blue button at the VERY END of the post. It will be delivered to your email….but sometimes it goes to your SPAM box. 

Winter is upon us. For us, that just means lots of rain and temps in the 40’s.   My kids dream of building snowmen, but we may only get that chance once a year.

Because of that, I have decided to create some fun snowmen activities that we can do in the warmth of our home!!!! And today I’m sharing a fun, visual way to practice subtracting with unlike denominators.

Prep – Work

These cards are easy to use, and only take a few minutes to prepare.

For one time use: 

Print them off front and back, and give children crayons and pencils to use.

For multiple uses:

  1. First, print off the task cards and cut them out.
  2. Next, laminate them and place on a large ring.
  3. Finally, provide dry erase markers.

Subtracting with Unlike Denominators:

Now comes the best question of all….how to use.

Many children with math sense, will look at these cards and just know the answers based on the models. Others may need a little bit of help to figure out the answer.

Here are a few steps they can use:

Example 1:

We begin by coloring in the fraction we will be subtracting from…which is 3/4.


Next, we look at the amount we are subtracting, and we ask the question…..can I subtract this easily from what I have already colored in?

The answer is yes! I can easily subtract one-half from the three-fourths. All I need to do is cross off two out of the three squares.

(If your child can not see this, have them color in one-half on the second snowman, and then color in that amount on the first snowman.)


Now it is time for the answer, and we find this by asking ourselves, “How much is left?” This is easy to see since there is only one piece that is colored in and not crossed off. The answer is 1/4.

You can even expand the learning, by having the children create an expression that has common denominators. When I colored in 1/2 I colored in two out of four parts. So 1/2 is the same as 2/4.

My new expression is 3/4 – 2/4.

Example 2:

This card is a little harder!

Once again we start by coloring in the amount we will be subtracting from…..1/2.

Now we have to ask ourselves, can I easily subtract 1/4 from this model. And this time the answer is no! The snowman is divided into two equal parts and not four…..so I can’t easily take away 1/4.

Our next step is to make the snowman have four equal parts instead of only two….and this is easily done by drawing lines to make it look just like the snowman next to it.


Finally, I can subtract my 1/4 and see that there is only 1/4 left! 1/2 – 1/4 = 1/4


Once again you can have the children write down the equivalent fraction before they solve. Once the lines are drawn, we see that 1/2 = 2/4 so my new expression is 2/4 – 1/4 = 1/4.

I hope these adorable snowmen help your children begin the process of understanding what happens when we are Subtracting with Unlike Denominators.


You’ve Got This,


You may also like:

Adding fractions with unlike denominators:


Or get more subtracting fractions with unlike denominators here!



Or save time and download ALL my fraction activities here!


One thought on “FREE Subtracting with Unlike Denominators Activity

  1. Suzie Homemaker says:

    These are so cute. Going to print for next yr and save. As we will be getting this. We had color ones for preschool. She still loves them. Thinking I might be able to do addition and subtraction on them if I clear contact them. Thanks for the idea.Oh and I lived in NY State for 48 years. Even there you only build snowman once. It’s to cold to roll snow until March. Yah March! Maybe a Feb thaw if it hits. Which happens every oh maybe ten yrs. So don’t feel bad. We from the north don’t make many snowman. We dream that it will finely warm up and not be so bone chilling cold. I’m in NC for my first winter. And loving that the snow only stayed one week!!!

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