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Subtracting Decimals (Elementary)

Directions: Using the digits 1 to 9 at most one time each, fill in the boxes to make the smallest (or largest) difference.



What number does each box represent?



No answers yet.  If you have one, post it in the comments.

Source: Robert Kaplinsky

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Directions: Using each of the digits from 0-9 only once, fill in the boxes to …


  1. My fourth grade students came up with 0.14 is the smallest difference. This could be achieved by a few different ways. However, the tenths and hundredths had to be ___.12 – ___.98

  2. We thought about negative numbers. My class came up with -9.36 if you consider negative numbers.

    • I’m rethinking our logic now. The smallest difference would mean show two numbers that are as close as possible on a number line.

  3. My fifth graders also got .14 as the smallest difference, but we did it using the digits 1-9. Both 4.12-3.98 and 5.12-4.98 can give you this result.

    They also figured 9.87-1.23 = 8.64 as the largest difference.

  4. My 4/5th grade students also got 0.14 several ways using _.12-_.98= 0.14. We did not use negative numbers.

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