Posted by Margo Gentile on Dec 07, 2013 under


Santa's Subtraction Toy Sack

Does this song sound familiar? Notice the changes?Don't remember this song? To hear the music for this song accompanied by an adorable video, go to . You can also hear this song at

"Up on the rooftop reindeer pause, out jumps good old Santa Claus..

Down through the chimney with lots of toys,

All for the little ones Christmas joys.

Uh, uh, oh, he doesn't know,

Uh, uh, oh, he doesn't know-o!

The bottom of his sack has a rip, rip, rip

He's losing presents on this Christmas Eve trip."

Here is  subtraction with a holiday theme. This is word problem practice as well.

"Santa's sack" is simply a small felt bag I found at our local Rite-Aid store. If you can't find a bag like this, you can also use an inexpensive holiday wine bottle bag that ties at the top, a plastic holiday baked goods bag, a holiday gift bag, or you can sew a similar one out of felt.


The "presents" are made from a mixture of small cube colored wooden beads, small colored wooden blocks, and small typical A-B-C blocks. I found these at discount stores and at a large chain craft store. Dollar stores also carry these.


I used permanent slim tip markers to "paint" the ribbon on the smaller blocks. The "bows" are self sticking faux jewels. I covered the larger blocks with brightly patterned masking tape.


Prepare the "sack" by partly undoing the bottom seam so that the hole is large enough to let some presents slip through.


Put a selected number of presents in the sack, counting aloud while doing so. Write this number down. Decide on how many times the sack should be shaken so some presents will fall out. You could choose a specific number of times, or sing the song above and stop the shaking when the singing stops.

For less shaking time, sing either just the bold lettered part of the song or the part of the song in regular print. Write - ___, filling in the number of presents that fell out of the sack. Finally, write and fill in = ____, the number of presents that are left in the sack.

You could also read(or have someone else read) a number story (word problem) and act it out using the sack and presents.


Sample word problem and template:

Santa had ______ presents to deliver to (child's name) house. Santa landed on the rooftop and pulled his sack off the sleigh. As he walked to the chimney, ______presents fell out through a hole in the sack. (shake the bag and allow some presents to fall out) How many presents are left in the sack?_____



____________________________  - __________________________ = _____________________________

Total number of presents in      Number of presents that                Choose one or think of others:

the sack at first.                         fell out.                                        Number of presents left in the sack.                                                              

                                                                                                    Number of presents still in the sack.

                                                                                                    Number of presents remaining in the sack.

                                                                                                    Number of presents that did NOT fall out of the sack.


You can focus on a particular difference and repeat the procedure until all combinations for ____ - _____ = PD (particular difference) have been discovered. Or you may prefer to find differences randomly. Either way, it's a fun and festive way to do subtraction!



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