Number Bonds

In maths, there are certain concepts that are beneficial to not only understand, but memorise. Most of us will have drilled Times Tables at some point in our lives – and that wasn’t just to torture us – it’s useful to know the answers so that you can quickly mentally deduce the answers to a whole host of other mathematical problems.

Number bonds is another great tool – and in lower primary children work on ‘Number Bonds to 10’ and ‘Number Bonds to 20’.

What are Number Bonds?

‘Number Bonds’ simply means which number you’d ‘bond’ (i.e. pair) with another in order to result in a specific answer. The faster you can recite these number bonds the stronger the connection in your brain is between these two numbers and thus the faster you can perform other related mathemathical tasks.

For example, 7+3 = 10. Therefore 7 bonds with 3 to make 10. Knowing this, your brain is faster calculating the difference between 57 and 60 (as your brain can quickly bond the 7 to the next 10 resulting in the answer being 3).

The number bonds to 10 are:

  • 0 + 10 = 10
  • 1 + 9 = 10
  • 2 + 8 = 10
  • 3 + 7 = 10
  • 4 + 6 = 10
  • 5 + 5 = 10
  • 6 + 4 = 10
  • 7 + 3 = 10
  • 8 + 2 = 10
  • 9 + 1 = 10
  • 10 + 0 = 10

Of course it is important to understand the how and why number bonds work (there’s no point in simply knowing number bonds – it’s important children grasp what is actually happening when we bond numbers together). So when teaching and exploring number bonds, please always use concrete materials (i.e. solid objects) that children can touch and move around which helps consolidate the learning of this new skill.

Below are a range of ways you can learn and practise number bonds.

Exploring & Learning Number Bonds

To begin with, let your child explore how number bonds work – without focusing too much on the correct answer. Let them explore and figure things out for themselves.

To do this, I lay out 10 counters (you could use 10 large pieces of pasta, 10 x 1p pieces, 10 teddies, 10 stones etc) in a row.

Next split the group into two and ask (for example) “If I have 4 teddies, how many do you have?”. Remember to keep reminding them that there are 10 in total so that their brain is always linking these addition questions with the number 10. “So if there are 10 teddies and you have 8, how many must I have?”. You could even start hiding your group so that they begin to calculate it all on their own.

Have a play around and let your kids ask you questions too. After playing for a while you’ll see your kids start to answer faster and faster – and there’s no worksheets in sight!

Another way to show groupings is to hold up 10 fingers then tuck x amount away and ask “How many more fingers do I need to add to show 10?”. Fingers are a great tool as the group quite clearly shows 10 and the missing number is still partially visible. It can also be played anywhere for quick revision.

Finally – you can use any resources you can find to help you play and learn. Outdoors is a great place to start learning number bonds – and children love collecting and finding items to represent their 10 things.

Practising Number Bonds

Once your child has grasped the concept of number bonds, there are a whole range of ways to practise the answers in order to get faster.

Number Bond Races

  • Draw the numbers 0-10 (ensuring you have TWO 5s!) onto separate pieces of paper
  • Lay half of them at one end of the room/corridor
  • Give the child the other pile to stand at the far end of the room
  • Race one card at a time to match its partner (i.e. 3 with 7)
  • You could set a timer to see if on each round you can get faster!

Number Bond Jumble

  • Use the same cards from above and jumble them all up
  • Time how quickly your kid can match their pairs
  • For a bit of fun you could join in and time yourself too (and of course demonstrate how even if you get it wrong how you can self-correct which is such a wonderfully valuable skill to have)

Number Bond Snap

  • Use the number cards from above and divide them amongst players
  • One person places any card down and if you have the matching bonding number you can Snap it and set the pair to the side

Number Bond Fingers

  • The aim of this game is to match the number of fingers needed to make 10
  • Hold up x amount of fingers and your partner needs to hold up the corresponding number to bond it to 10
  • For example, if you hold up 3 fingers – your partner holds up 7 fingers

Number Bond Jump

  • Using chalk (or large pieces of paper if indoors) write the numbers 0-10 in a large open space
  • Shout any number between 0-10 and your child has to jump onto the corresponding number that would bond with it in order to make 10
  • An extension to this could be that you jump onto one of the numbers and your child has to do the corresponding number of star jumps that would bond it to 10

Number Bonds Games Online

Please note that weeSTEMs is not affiliated with any of these sites, and at the time of publishing they were all accessible, free and safe to play.

Let me know if you’ve come across any great games and remember to share your pictures over on the weeSTEMs Facebook page.

Happy learning x

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