Number Bonds (KG-2nd grade)

by Cindy Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

Number Bonds are pairs of numbers that combine to total the target or focus number. When students learn number bonds they are applying the commutative, identity, and zero properties. PLUS, the information can be applied to both addition and subtraction problems. Number bonds of 10 are very critical to our place value system, and will enhance a student’s success with future addition and subtraction strategies such as use of an open number line.

  • KG students should master number bonds to 5.
  • First graders should master number bonds to 10.
  • Second graders should master number bonds to 20.


Number Bond Tips and 6 FREE Activities:

  • Did you notice the number of combinations is always one more than the number itself? (NB 4 has 5 combinations, NB 7 has 8 combinations, etc.).
  • Individual assessments to determine a student’s “Focus Number” can be done very quickly. See Number Bond Assessment
  • I advise teachers (and parents) to have students work on one number bond at a time. When it is mastered, then proceed to the next. Students then build on the known to learn the unknown.
  • Because of the commutative property, students learn the first half and hopefully apply that property to the second half (2 and 5 = 7 as does 5 and 2).
  • Then students apply this to subtraction. 7 -2 = ___. This idea of number bonds is semi-related to “fact families” in that you see the relationship between addition and subtraction; but different because with number bonds you learn all of the pairs of numbers that total a given number.

To learn number bonds, here are some tasks which can be done with any “focus number.” They are engaging and can be repeated often (as individual, partner, or small group activities). Click on the title to see/print the activity.  I have provided the directions, examples, and recording sheets when needed.

  1. On and Off: All you need are pictures and counting objects. I provided 4 pictures (courtesy of Microsoft clip art).
  2. Part-Part-Whole Boxes: Use a part-part-whole template and counting objects.
  3. Coin Toss and Coin Toss recording sheet Pennies will do!
  4. Hide and Seek: Use a bowl and counting objects.
  5. Bingo Stamper: You need 2 colors of bingo stampers (check the dollar stores) and plain paper.
  6. 4 Games About Ten: Three  of these need a deck of playing cards (minus the face cards).

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