Teaching Number Bonds to 10

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June 15, 2015

in curriculum, Early Learning, Maths, preschool education

Today for the first time my 4 year old daughter was really excited about playing Math games and was begging for more Math with our Numicon kit before bed. “Let’s try out another number!”. She was very excited. If you’ve read my recent curriculum update, you will be as surprised as I was. I have been taught Maths the traditional way and was one of those rare children who loved abstract Math without any need for manipulatives. I’ve struggled to understand why my daughter doesn’t get excited by Maths facts like 5 + 5 = 10 or 4+4 =8, or by counting and skip counting. I realised I actually have to find a way to make it fun and interesting for her, because clearly she is not interested in listening to times tables songs or repeating maths facts (who can blame her?).

When we bought the Numicon kit, she was initially excited but when I tried showing her number bonds to 10 (simply showing her how you can make a 10 from a 9 and a 1, or an 8 and a 2 and so forth), she quickly lost interest. Today, watching Crewton Ramone’s introductory Mortensen Math video, in which he explains that “All Numbers want to be a 10“, I had a little idea for a math game for kids to teach Number Bonds to 10, and it was a big hit with my 4 year old daughter, finally!!

The game we played was that Number 10 is having a party, but that only other 10 year olds are invited. All the younger kids are told “you’re not 10, you’re not coming to my party!” (you see how I adapted it to a 4 year old preschooler!). How can number 8 sneak into the party undiscovered? Number 8 has to trick number 10 by dressing up as a 10! How can number 8 dress up as a 10? My daughter would take an 8 and add two 1s, or an 8 and add a 2. Then I’d ask how two 5s could sneak into the party, or number 9?

My daughter had the most fun tricking the 10s and she got excited about who wore the nicest party dress (the different Numicon colours, she likes the numbers 4 and 2 the most). Then she wanted all numbers to have a party, so we played the same with number 6 (Number bonds to 6), with the other 6, then 5 + 1 (dressed up as a 6), 4 + 2, 3 + 3 and so forth coming to the party.

numicon 6 partyThen, in addition to number bonds to 10, I decided to introduce the concept of subtraction. Let’s say number 4 is having a party, but number 6 wants to go. How can number 6 dress up as a four? We have to hide two holes to make it four. I showed her how she can block the holes using the Numicon beads, and from there I asked her to transform many big numbers into smaller numbers by finding the number of beads she needs to place on the numbers. I was impressed how fast she found the solutions. Clearly, she does love math, it’s just the first time I presented problems to her in an age appropriate manner adapted to her interests, using her language. Try it and tell me how it works for you!


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