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Y3 ds doesn't know his number bonds to 10...

(37 Posts)
MerryMarigold Mon 09-Sep-13 16:50:30

Just feel so down about this. His teacher came up to me today and asked me to go over them with him as she had tried to do this at lunch isn't lunchtime for playing/ winding down and he couldn't manage. He's nearly 8! Ds2 who is 4 nearly knows his number bonds to 10.

He's worked really hard this holidays (relatively speaking). He managed his 3x table in the end and started joined up writing. It's so slow to get him to learn and then he forgets so quickly. It's frustrating for me, let alone for him.

Sorry, just had to vent as he is now playing around a friend's house and I want to get the 'upset' out of my system. If anyone's had experience of this, please share!

bizzey Mon 09-Sep-13 17:06:57

Hi ds struggled with this as well ..(but he was struggling with everything tbh !).

We found using little counters or rolling little balls of playdough up so he could "SEE" the number bonds helped.

5/10 mins everyday "playing" to see how many he could make and doing it out of numereical (sp) order helped as well.

Eventually we just played a game in bath/car sort of thing where I would just say a number eg 8 and he could quickly say 2 without having to think.

By using LOTS of counters or pennies it helped with his understanding of times tables .


cassgate Mon 09-Sep-13 17:15:56

I have yr 3 ds as well who is a slow learner too. I have to do extra with him at home as the time given in lessons on specific things is limited so if he doesn't get it first time he seems to slip behind. Although he can recite his 2 5 & 10 times table i discovered over the holidays that he didn't have a clue that its repeated addition. He struggles with problem solving where he has to use tables or number bonds even though he seems to know them in isolation. Sometimes i feel that i am doing the schools job for them as i am constantly being asked to do extra at home. No idea what the answer is.

DreadLock Mon 09-Sep-13 17:19:34

I am 48 and have no clue what a number bond is. my dc are 13,17 and 18, I have just asked them what a number bond is. They all looked at me blankly. One is doing A level maths!
Not much help obviously but might make you feel a bit better OP grin

2kidsintow Mon 09-Sep-13 17:23:43

There's a song that my year 4s always smile when they hear it, because they sand it in the infant.

(To the tune of This old man, he played one...)

9 add1, 2 add 8, 3 add7, adding's great.
4 add6, 5 add 5, 6 add4, let's count some more.
7 add3, 8 add 2, 9 add1, we're almost done.
10 add0, 0 add 10, I know my number bonds to ten.

GuinevereOfTheRoyalCourt Mon 09-Sep-13 19:52:26

Would second what bizzey has said about it helping if your ds can 'see' the numbers and how the bonds work.

I have found using cuisinaire rods particularly useful with my own (yr2) ds who has had language delay/disorder and struggled with remembering/using the word labels of numbers.

Fingers are always helpful too, of course!

mrz Mon 09-Sep-13 20:09:59

Knowing number bonds (instant recall) like knowing times tables helps with calculations so is really useful knowledge expected at the end of reception year.

toomuchicecream Mon 09-Sep-13 20:12:27

Try singing along to Farmer Pete (on youtube).

IsabelleRinging Mon 09-Sep-13 20:18:43

I find playing pellmanism (pairs) helps when children don't know their number bonds. Make cards with two sets of numbers 0-10 (and two number 5s). Take it in turn to turn over two cards, if they make 10 then you keep them, if not turn them back over and other persons turn. Winner is the one who finds the most pairs. This soon has kids trying to remember which pairs go together as they want to win. You can also use two dice with with 0-5 0n one dice and 5-10 on the other, roll dice and if they total 10 then score a point- play first to 10 points etc. This also helps with quick recall of addition facts too.

Fairenuff Mon 09-Sep-13 21:50:48

You can do it on your fingers:

1 finger down - 9 still up
2 fingers down - 8 still up, etc.

Also, does the school have a set of numicon?

These are coloured plastic shapes in pairs of bonds to ten. One child I worked with learned which colours went together before he learned the numbers.

simpson Tue 10-Sep-13 11:25:42

My kids play shut the box which is great for number bonds.

DD sometimes uses an abacus to help her.

Annanon Tue 10-Sep-13 11:33:56

This song is simple to remember: (in the tune of Knees up mother brown)

1 and 9 is 10
2 and 8 is 10
3 and 7, 4 and 6, 5 and 5 is 10, hey

6 and 4 is 10
7 and 3 is 10
8 and 2, 9 and 1, 10 and 0 is 10.

cingolimama Tue 10-Sep-13 11:42:54

OP, I really really sympathise. I had the same problem with DD, who is otherwise extremely bright. For whatever reason, and I think it was down to low expectations, lack of confidence and bad teaching - she just didn't get it in Y3. I put my head in my hands - I might have even cried.

BUT, you can turn this around. In fact, you must. All it takes is a commitment to practise, practise, practise. And it won't be forever - just until your DC can get over this hump and masters his number bonds. And BTW, number bonds to 10 don't just mean all the numbers adding up to 10 - it means also knowing what 3+5=, and 2+7=, etc.

Personally, I would avoid anything gimmicky like songs. Children actually need to know their number bonds and times tables as independent facts, rather than mentally sing a song to remember. My suggestion is to work little and often, rather than a big session on the weekend. If you could do 10 minutes a day, using mathsheets (free from or if you/DC prefer I've found the website Komodo extremely helpful, as it's not gimmicky at all and focuses on basic numeracy Komodo has a small monthly charge but might offer a free trial.

If your DC can start to feel confident about his skills, you'll see a huge change. And it doesn't take too long. Try the 10 minutes a day routine for 3-4 weeks and see the difference in his knowledge and confidence.

I want to encourage you - don't despair. My DD has made a lot of progress and is now working with the next-to-top group (after being at the bottom for most of Y2/Y3). I wish you the best of luck, Merry.

MerryMarigold Tue 10-Sep-13 12:38:08

Thanks so much for all your ideas. Basically he dies know them but doesn't know them on quick recall. Mrz, he has certainly known them in the past on quick recall but has obviously forgotten, which is what made me despair as he has been doing this since reception. What hope does he have of learning times tables or indeed any facts, when he forgets so quickly? I feel sorry for him and frustrated, but I will certainly try out the websites and make a few minutes a day for memory stuff.

richmal Tue 10-Sep-13 13:07:20

I used to do one times table fact every day with dd on the way to school then check she'd remembered it some time on the journey home.

Annanon Tue 10-Sep-13 13:49:06

I agree that the songs don't cover everything. However, pairs to 10 was an achievable bitesize starting point, which boosted my dc's confidence before moving on.

Like others, we also use numicon at home and play shut the box. There is a game called beat the octopus on tes iboard activity finder, which is also a fun way to practice for instant recall. I'm not a teacher, but as a parent I've found it useful.

PastSellByDate Tue 10-Sep-13 15:16:15

Hi Merrymarigold

Absolutely have been there myself with DD1 - we resolved it by joining an on-line tutorial.

Lots of us have posted our praises here on MN for

mathsfactor: - which we use
maths whizz:

We found that the issue really was that DD1 was a visual learner and also learned best through doing. We put in about an hour a week regularly doing maths on-line (well I turn on the machine & drift about in the background now - I helped type at first) - and it has made an unbelievable difference for her very much for the positive.

Other web sites that are a great help:

Woodlands Junior School Maths Zone: - just select the area you are interested in working in and then there are all sorts of links to useful games. Takes a bit of hunting and trial and error (I tend to try out games first) - but really useful.

Also recommend Maths champs (link from mumsnet learning): - have him start with games for 5 - 7 - to build essential skills & confidence and then move up when ready.


Quincejelly Tue 10-Sep-13 15:56:07

Hi Marigold!
As I just wrote on my thread about my dd, it really sounds as if our children are very similar. Even down to my 4 year old who can do it all with no problems!
My dds problems with number bonds, times tables and everything else is that she learns the things and within a month it has all gone completely from her memory. She has to learn it again and it´s as if she has never seen it before in her life.
We also do five or ten minutes a day, but it feels as if it´s all for nothing as she then forgets it totally.
We spent the whole of the summer holidays learning the four times table, then she got into school and apparently could remember very little of it.
As you say, it upsets me and I think she is just getting more and more frustrated not to mention VERY tired as it´s such a struggle for her.
No constructive help - but at least neither of us is alone!
Hugs to you and ds!

mathanxiety Tue 10-Sep-13 16:31:04

This site has a few links to other helpful hints, as well as tips.

Look into cuisenaire rods?

When someone is having trouble memorising tables, they generally need to spend a lot of time (often supervised) working on that area before it sinks in. 'A lot of time' may mean hours every day, with arithmetic sprinkled into conversations and everyday activities on top of interesting activities. You will need to invest a lot of time in this yourself.

I had to do this with DD4 and it was like pulling teeth at first as she had already got her back up about maths in general (about age 8). I ended up bribing her - paid her weekly to empty the dishwasher when she came home from school every day, fill it up again with anything in the sink, do her homework before I got home, and then do maths activities with me once I got in and put dinner on. I introduced the non-maths activities into the job description to keep the focus off 'how bad DD4 was at maths' (her belief about herself) and also to show her that she could get good at something if she did it daily, and do something without having to think about it much once it became a habit, and also to give myself some time so that I could do activities with her.

educatingarti Tue 10-Sep-13 18:45:58

I'd also agree with using cuisinaire rods - they give a colour and size "peg" to hang the learning of the information on. I make "sum sandwiches - using the orange 10 rods as bread and getting the children to record which two colours (and therefore numbers) will fit exactly in between as teh filling!

this book has some great ideas on other ways to use the cuisinaire rods to learn number bonds and explore many other areas of number.

MerryMarigold Tue 10-Sep-13 18:56:18

Quince. Have you read "Is That My Child?" (Robin Pauc). I read it this summer and The Brain Food Plan. Rang a lot of bells. I am trying to gradually alter his diet (he's also extremely fussy with food) and give him some supplements in the hope that it will help his memory and just make his school life a bit more pleasant.

Thanks for all the websites. We did some work today - he seems to enjoy it when it's on the computer. It's just hard to know where to start as he's basically behind in everything (not just Maths) so we need to do other things too like writing and spelling and he's very tired after school having worked his brain hard all day.

It's encouraging to know I am not alone and also that there have been success stories...thank you.

Ferguson Tue 10-Sep-13 19:04:12

You have already had plenty of good advice, but I will add some info that I have sent to several parents in the past. Learning to "see" the pattern in your mind is, I think, easier than having to remember poems!


Practical things are best for grasping number concepts - bricks, Lego, beads, counters, money, shapes, weights, measuring, cooking.

Do adding, taking away, multiplication (repeated addition), division (sharing), using REAL OBJECTS as just 'numbers' can be too abstract for some children.

Number Bonds of Ten forms the basis of much maths work, so try to learn them. Using Lego or something similar, use a LOT of bricks (of just TWO colours, if you have enough) lay them out so the pattern can be seen of one colour INCREASING while the other colour DECREASES. Lay them down, or build up like steps.


ten of one colour none of other
nine of one colour one of other
eight of one colour two of other
seven of one colour three of other

etc, etc

then of course, the sides are equal at 5 and 5; after which the colours 'swap over' as to increasing/decreasing.

To learn TABLES, do them in groups that have a relationship, thus:

x2, x4, x8

x3, x6, x12

5 and 10 are easy

7 and 9 are rather harder.

Starting with TWO times TABLE, I always say: "Imagine the class is lining up in pairs; each child will have a partner, if there is an EVEN number in the class. If one child is left without a partner, then the number is ODD, because an odd one is left out."

Use Lego bricks again, lay them out in a column of 2 wide to learn 2x table. Go half way down the column, and move half the bricks up, so that now the column is 4 bricks wide. That gives the start of 4x table.

Then do similar things with 3x and 6x.

With 5x, try and count in 'fives', and notice the relationship with 'ten' - they will alternate, ending in 5 then 10.

It is important to try and UNDERSTAND the relationships between numbers, and not just learn them 'by rote'.

I am sorry it seems complicated trying to explain these concepts, but using Lego or counters should make understanding easier.

An inexpensive solar powered calculator (no battery to run out!) can help learn tables by 'repeated addition'. So: enter 2+2 and press = to give 4. KEEP PRESSING = and it should add on 2 each time, giving 2 times table.

There are good web sites, which can be fun to use :


You probably don't need all of the above, but just use what seems relevant to his needs.

Quincejelly Tue 10-Sep-13 19:33:18

Thanks for that book tip, Marigold!

I´m going to look into cuisinaire rods too!

mrz Tue 10-Sep-13 19:34:02

mrz Tue 10-Sep-13 19:38:26

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