Jill Staake

Number bonds are a simple but incredibly helpful concept for kids learning their math facts. They demonstrate that any number can be broken down (decomposed) into smaller parts that make up a whole, and they’re an excellent lead-in to addition and subtraction. Here are some of our favorite activities to try in the classroom or at home.

1. Introduce the concept by sorting parts and wholes.

Number Bonds

Before you bring numbers into the mix, simply start by having kids sort pictures of whole items versus parts of items. This introduces the idea of “part, part, whole” which is key to understanding number bonds.

Learn more: Roots & Wings

2. Post an anchor chart.

A number bonds anchor chart helps remind students about the importance of the concept. Keep it simple, or illustrate more ways that these bonds work for future reference.

Learn more: Livin’ In a Van Down By the River/Collaborating in Kinder

3. Build a number bonds machine.

Number Bonds

This is so fun! Drop the separate parts down their respective chutes, where they land to make up the whole. Kids will love this!

Learn more: Ms. Marinelli’s Classroom Blog

4. Make number bonds in divided plates.

You can usually find these divided plates at dollar stores, and they’re perfect for demonstrating number bonds. Hands-on is the best way for many kids to learn.

Learn more: Just Teachy

5. Roll the dice.

Number Bonds

Here’s an easy activity: roll a die and create a bond using that number as the whole. You can also roll two dice and use them as the parts; add them together to find the whole.

Learn more: Boy Mama Teacher Mama

6. Create bonds with mini-erasers or toys.

We love these clear pockets that work perfectly with dry-erase markers. Write a number in the larger circle, then use little erasers or other toys to make up the parts.

Learn more: Collaborating in Kinder

7. Sing the Farmer Pete song.

This catchy tune is a great way to learn about making ten. Have your own students act it out just like in the video!

8. Pull out the dominoes.

Dominoes make great math manipulatives! Lay them out to show the two parts, then write the whole bond in the circles.

Learn more: Lessons for Little Ones

9. Clip and slide to make number bonds.

Number Bonds

We really like these clever Lakeshore Snap & Slide Number Bonds tools, but we love the fact that you can make your own using hangers from the bargain bin! 

Learn more: The Kindergarten Center

10. Put together number bonds eggs.

Plastic Easter eggs have so many fun and educational uses! They’re ideal for demonstrating number bonds, where two halves of the egg make up a whole.

Learn more: The Imagination Tree

11. Craft a number bonds rainbow.

Who knew number bonds could be so pretty? This math craft is a snap to put together, and makes a great reference tool for kids learning their addition facts.

Learn more: Simply Kinder

12. Display number bonds in cupcake wrappers.

Number Bonds

Cupcake wrappers and craft sticks are inexpensive enough that you can make each student their own number bonds manipulative! This is such an easy idea for hands-on practice.

Learn more: Playhood

13. Assemble chain-link number bonds.

Your students probably already get a kick of making paper chains, so use them as a colorful way to explore this math concept.

Learn more: Relief Teaching Ideas

14. Super-size your number bonds.

Number Bonds

A few circles of construction paper give kids their own big number bond tool to practice with. These are also large enough for teachers to display on the board for everyone to see.

Learn more: The Kindergarten Smorgasboard

15. Count on your fingers.

So adorable! Kids trace and cut out their hands, then glue them to paper leaving the fingers free to bend. Now they can practice “making 10” while their hands are still free to write.

Learn more: Primary Solutions/Pinterest

16. Fly a number bonds kite.

Each of the tails on this smart kite represents part of the whole number at the top. These would make a fantastic springtime classroom decoration, don’t you think?

Learn more: Primary Playground

17. Step into a number bond.

Number Bonds

Kids will really “get into” this activity! Use them as markers to demonstrate the parts of the whole. (Try this with stuffed animals too.)

Learn more: Roots and Wings

18. Turn a cookie sheet into a teaching tool.

Tired of your math manipulatives disappearing underneath desks and cabinets? Use magnets on a cookie sheet instead. So smart!

Learn more: Just Teachy

19. Wear number bonds bracelets.

Number Bonds

Grab some pipe cleaners and pony beads and turn math into a fashion statement! Kids can slide the beads around to show different number combinations, but they’ll always add up to the same whole.

Learn more: Dr. Jean and Friends

20. Turn hula hoops into number bonds.

This is just like the bracelets, only much bigger! Cut up pool noodles into pieces to make the “beads.” (Find more uses for pool noodles in the classroom here.)

Learn more: Tunstall’s Teaching Tidbits

10 frames are another excellent tool for teaching this concept. Learn how to use them here.

Plus, check out all our elementary math tips, tricks, and ideas .





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