DD struggling with number bonds. Advice please how to help her without making her (and me) nuts.

(32 Posts)
bowerbird Tue 15-Jan-13 13:41:24

DD is, generally doing well at maths in Y3. She loves geometry, data handling, time problems etc. She knows her multiplication tables to 10. I do a bit of extra work with her at home on maths, as she had a terrible year last year and I want to keep on top of this. She's now confident about her maths skills and enjoys the subject.

To my horror, I found she's still struggling with very very basic number bonds (Bonds to 10 and bonds to 20). I don't know why this is, but feel that I have to tackle it at home, as these skills are so crucial to any progress and development in maths.

Has anyone out there ever had this? How to approach? Practice sheets daily? This is so specific and the online programmes don't really address this. I've never used rewards for schoolwork or music practise, but am considering this now. Mistake? Might not take very long (by Easter could she be solid?). Really want to deal with this but not turn her off maths.

OP’s posts: |
learnandsay Tue 15-Jan-13 13:49:15

I'm sure you could create a game at home with pieces of card (a bit like snap) for number bonds to twenty and then you could play it on the kitchen table. I think it's just a question of practice. I don't think number bonds are that important for maths or arithmetic. We didn't use them when I was growing up. But we could manipulate numbers in other ways. This is just one way of manipulating them.

SunshineOutdoors Tue 15-Jan-13 13:49:25

Would she respond to a game like matching pairs e.g numbers 0 to 10 (5 twice) on pieces of paper face down. Turn one over, then another, if they are the number bond you keep them if not turn them back over and it's next person's go.

To help you remember at first number bonds to ten, hold up all fingers and thumbs, if first number is 3, put down 3 fingers, how many fingers and thumbs left holding up - 7.

Quick fire rounds with her maybe in the car etc, I say 3 you say 7. Then she has a go at calling out first.

Is this the type of thing you're after or am I way off the mark?

SunshineOutdoors Tue 15-Jan-13 13:51:22

Can you go shopping somewhere for penny sweets with 10p?

Once number bonds to ten are solid, 20 is not too hard, to just add 10 to one of the numbers.

Bead strings of 20 where you can split the beads in two and count both sides. To help understanding before just learning them by rote.

bowerbird Tue 15-Jan-13 14:29:59

This is a genuine question, but does everything have to become a game? I find the idea of making a game of maths so boring it makes my head spin. I think my DD feels the same - she's always resisted this and makes a clear line between "proper play" and work/learning.

Also, I guess I want to do this as efficiently as possible (i.e would rather do 5-10 minutes straight learning, than 30 minutes playing around the issue).

Don't wish to offend anyone who has successfully played their way through maths!

OP’s posts: |
Sugarbeach Tue 15-Jan-13 14:37:29

You can either devise simple sums in straight forward number sentences form, no confusing diagrams and cartoons etc., for her to do - like a work sheet.

Or you could get some Kumon workbooks on simple adding and subtracting, which consist of worksheets after worksheets for her to practice - she should get the hang of them and bored of them before she's worked through half the book.

At home with my 3 yr old DD, I've always focused on the basic + - x dividing - as I feel they don't get enough practice in the core maths skills at school.

I feel there is too much touching on a wide range of subjects without the depth nor securing the basics, jmho.

Sugarbeach Tue 15-Jan-13 14:38:05

Year 3 not 3 yr old DD....


WildRumpus Tue 15-Jan-13 14:48:19

Ok don't shoot me because it IS a game but 'Shut the box' is well worth a look. We got the two player version as it's more interesting to play. You can play a game in under 5 minutes and it really speeds up your number bonds. My 3 year old can't write at all but his number bonds are excellent thanks to Shut The Box (he plays against his older sister). Got it for friends with DCs aged 6 & 8 and they love it too.

bowerbird Tue 15-Jan-13 15:53:59

Thanks everyone! Really appreciate you all taking the time to write. Wild, I'll check out Shut the Box and won't shoot. Sugar I agree - not enough on basic core skills. AIBU to resent the fact that I spend a lot of time on really basic stuff, or perhaps save it for another thread?

OP’s posts: |
StitchAteMySleep Tue 15-Jan-13 16:13:26

You could use cuisinaire rods or an abacus to illustrate physically the pattern alongside written work, I have found some children benefit from a less abstract approach.

Once she has the concept visually you could make up your own silly rhymes to help her for example 1+9 right on time, 9+1 better run, 2+8 don't be late, 8+2 has lost her shoe etc

Games will be brilliant to reinforce her memory of number bonds once she has got it.

SilasGreenback Tue 15-Jan-13 16:18:53

Do you walk to school? I just used to drill mine on them everyday as we walked in - so I would say 6 and they had to answer 4 or 14 depending on if we were going to 10 or 20. Then I started throwing in bonds to 100 using 10's.

They already had looked at cuisinaire rods, so had the basic idea - it was just rote learning to get them fast.

mrz Tue 15-Jan-13 18:03:02


headinhands Tue 15-Jan-13 20:19:53

I'm like you in that a few months ago I sensed he was getting in a pickle with the maths they were doing at school so decided to work from the bottom up to see if there was a foundational problem. It was then that I discovered his poor number bonds recall so decided I would concentrate on that.

I printed out all the number bonds in bright colours, laminated them and had a few in every room and we would just do a few here and there and in a few weeks he was much more secure.

After reading your OP I was all set to fire off some of the games we did we even set up a real sweet shop where all the sweets cost anything from 1p to 9p and he only had 10p's and helped me work out the change

RueDeWakening Tue 15-Jan-13 20:33:09

DD got given a poem to learn:
10 and 0, always a hero
9 and 1, we've just begun
8 and 2, I need a poo I might have made that one up
and so on.
I would give her the words, she'd tell me the numbers that went with them, as we were eating dinner a few times a week. Sometimes I'd give her the numbers and she'd say the rhyme, once she was better at remembering them I'd give her one number and she had to say the other.

She's weird, she really enjoyed it

TheRedQueen Tue 15-Jan-13 20:39:33

Perhaps try the Ambleside Primary School number bonds program?


TheRedQueen Tue 15-Jan-13 20:42:24

There are also some suggestions in this old thread:


LifeofPo Tue 15-Jan-13 20:46:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

simpson Tue 15-Jan-13 21:35:24

Was just coming on to suggest "shut the box" but I can see someone has beaten me to it grin

It truly is a fab game and both my kids love it...

Ferguson Tue 15-Jan-13 21:50:30

Hi - retired TA (male) here :

I think it is important for a child to be able to visualize what is happening when they learn bonds of ten.

So, yes an abacus is good. Possibly more fun is Lego bricks, counters, or some other small items that you have at least ten of.

Draw a centre-line and place the ten items in a vertical line to the left of the centre-line. On another piece of paper ask DD to write, in numbers, what she can see: ie, 10 one side, 0 the other side : 10 + 0.

Now get her to take one item across to the other side, and (ideally WITHOUT COUNTING) say how many are left, then write the sum ('number picture' some schools call them), ie, 9 one side, 1 the other side : 9 + 1.

Now take another item across, and do the same thing: ie 8 + 2.

(I'm sure you get the idea, so I don't need to go through the whole lot ! )

However, do observe two points: when it gets to 5 + 5 the two sides are EQUAL, and as it continues the, left hand side gets less, while the right hand side increases until, visually, the two sides have swapped places from where they started.

(Sorry this has been a very long-winded explanation of something, that once it is grasped, is self-evident, but I always think it important for a child to see and understand what is happening, and NOT just learn things by rote, without understanding WHY.)

A Year 6 girl came to me once, saying she never understood 'Taking
Away' in Year 2, until I explained it to her : "Imagine you have three sweets in your hand; a robber comes and steals two of them - he takes them away. How many are left?" And she could do that in her head. [The most surprising thing for me was that she still recalled the incident four years later!] ('Take Away' to a child could mean where Dad gets the 'Chinese' on a Friday evening!)

It surprises me DD got to Year 3 without this having been picked up by school, that she didn't know her bonds. Maybe a tactful word with teacher might throw some light on how this was overlooked, and are other children in a similar position.

wheresthebeach Wed 16-Jan-13 09:07:27

We found the same issue - but DD is Yr4. Time tables are stunning as we practice them because a)school tells us to b)they are tested every week. Basic adding and subtraction not tested regularly or practiced at home so we find ourselves in Year 4 with a child who is apparently doing fine (top half of target) but who was so slow at adding up 8+4 it made my eyes bleed...

We're also not games people; play is play, learning is learning.

So...created a spreadsheet - 30 number bonds (4+4, 8+12 etc). Every morning she does 2 mins timed on the sheet. She knows she's doing two minutes of work which is fine. Also for the first 'block' of the walk to school does mental maths, again 5+20, 8+13 etc. Its working...she's getting faster and it's in small chunks so she doesn't kick off.

Introduced her to blackjack grin which we now play with chips as its a true game rather than maths practice dressed up as fun.

SanityClause Wed 16-Jan-13 09:27:45

As others have said, or implied, its a matter of practise.

If you don't like practising in the form of a game, find a method that works for you.

Sometimes children like true or false. So, you can say 8 + 4 = 13, and she can say, no, it's 12.

drwitch Wed 16-Jan-13 09:57:17

ds (also year 3, also good at maths) went through a stage of struggling with these- even though he could do them easily in year 1. I think it is in part due to the way maths is taught in some places- do you know your number bonds?-yes lets move on to something else rather than do you know your number bonds? yes lets use them to do something harder and practice them and in part a developmental blip- a deeper understanding of place value (units, tens hundreds etc) makes sums like 8+6 much harder

ReallyTired Wed 16-Jan-13 10:07:16

I think that cuisinaire rods are great for UNDERSTANDING. Computer games can really help with the repitition. If you don't want games then you could get Kumon work books from Amazon.

What are your dd's tables like. Timez attack is a good way of learning times tables.

"At home with my 3 yr old DD, I've always focused on the basic + - x dividing - as I feel they don't get enough practice in the core maths skills at school."

Sugarbeach Surely thats because she is only three years old! Most three year olds are still mastering counting objects.

SuzysZoo Wed 16-Jan-13 11:27:11

Cut out all the numbers to 20 on little bits of cardboard. Flash them up and ask her to number bond to 20. Using fingers is fine I think - they soon get bored of that and start to remember. I used to do this with my daughter in the bath. Captive audience there, with generally no other distraction (and relaxing) and we could do it every day - only took 5 mins! Once you have that mastered try other mental maths on flashcards or number bond to 100 etc.

DewDr0p Wed 16-Jan-13 11:36:25

Why so anti games OP? Is it so bad for learning to be fun?

YY to Shut The Box

Or try this

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