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Number bonds

(10 Posts)
MimsyBorogroves Thu 27-Feb-14 18:49:57

Not something I've come across before. DS1 (Y1) has come home with a letter saying he needs to learn the number bonds for making 10. Now that I've realised what this actually means, how best to teach him how to remember them? Do we learn by rote (0 + 10 = 10, 1+9=10) or is there a better way? I'm a bit of a maths failure anyway and this sort of thing brings me out in a cold sweat.

I've asked the teacher for some ideas, but so far I've had "I'll go through it with him" a few times and so far this has never been acted upon.

LindyHemming Thu 27-Feb-14 19:24:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

spanieleyes Thu 27-Feb-14 19:28:47

Smarties are good! Lay out ten red ones, you then get to eat a red one and replace it by a yellow one (9+1) then eat another red and replace it by a second yellow ( 8+2) and so on!
Anything visual is a good start, fingers are handy, put up 10 fingers, place something between any two fingers, how many on each side? Lots of practical ideas first before moving onto the "learn by heart" stage-then at least it means something!

AgadorSpartacus Thu 27-Feb-14 19:31:43

Also search the Farmer Pete number fun song on you tube.

My dd loved it for learning number bonds.

PastSellByDate Fri 28-Feb-14 14:26:36

Hi mimsy:

Basically if you think about how you do everyday addition/ subtraction - you kind of know automatically that 8 + 5 = 13. So number bonds to 10 and 20 are really crucial for learning these number patterns you encounter frequently.

Now 'Go away and learn number bonds to 10' - was also issued to us at our primary school when DDs were in Y1 (now Y4 & Y6) - with no suggestions.

My advice is go to woodlands junior school maths zone and explore the addition resources/ games:

There are also some great games here:

Things you can do easily at home:

Like spaniel & Euphemia suggest - use objects to make numbers.

I personally think the big mistake is just focusing on 10 - it's as helpful to really know that 8 = 5 + 3/ 4 + 4/ 2 + 6/ 1 + 7 & inverses. So my advice would be to play at counting up numbers of objects (say 5 legos) and then asking how many you would have if you added 3 more (whilst also doing it - reinforcing the maths visually).

A real hurdle for DD1 was understanding what happens with numbers >10.

So what do you get when you add 1 to 10. Part of this was not getting what to do on paper (school was very slow to introduce actual numeric work and I think that was an issue there) - but also not understanding place value.

With adding numbers over 10 we did larger and smaller items of the same thing - so grapes and raisins, duplo and lego, marbles and golf balls.

Then you can visually show place value - units (let's say raisins) and tens (let's say grapes).

So 13 + 4 would be one plate with one grape and 3 raisins + 4 more raisins.

one grape / 7 raisins
1 ten/ 7 units

The abacus game on ICT games is really helpful for this:

I think this kind of work really helps prepare that core understanding of place value prior to learning subtraction of numbers >10.


PastSellByDate Fri 28-Feb-14 14:28:51

Forgot to say - teaching subtraction by eating things up is great fun.

so 10 smarties take away 3 (have DC eat the three) - leaves how many smarties?


8 raisins take away 4 leaves how many raisins.


Ferguson Fri 28-Feb-14 18:48:36

I was a primary TA for twenty years, and would advise the following, amongst other things:


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 :


PS: make 'number cards' with a large numeral on one side, equal number of dots/pics on the other. Give him the random numerals: can he place the correct number of bricks/beads on it? Make a 'washing line' and using the same number cards in random order, give him clothes pegs to peg up the numbers in the correct order.

MimsyBorogroves Sat 01-Mar-14 15:32:10

Thank you all so much - really fantastic ideas and resources here. Just wish school were as helpful!

Ferguson Sat 01-Mar-14 18:58:46

Cheers, MB! - schools and teachers have all the planning, admin, meetings, budgets, etc etc, to cope with, and probably a class of 30 or so, and parents to inform/placate.

Here on MN we only need to respond to people who seem in need of clarification and sympathetic support, and we are pleased to be of help.

I first started as a 'parent helper' supporting Yr1 reading. One of my very first 'readers' turned up seventeen years later, in another school, when she was on Teaching Practice in her final year of Teacher Training!

RayofSun Sat 01-Mar-14 19:16:40

Wow. I had the same thought at OP so thank you for the suggestions!!! grin

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