Saturday, February 7, 2009

Number Bonds

My students seem to have difficulties with number bonds. Can you suggest some ways to make it easier for them? Also, is it necessary for students to write the steps when they do number bonds they way the textbook (see photo) represent it?

We teach number bonds as a preparation for students to learn their addition facts. Addition facts are addition involving single-digit numbers such as 4 + 6 = 10. The suggested way to develop number bond is to use concrete materials such as unifix cubes like the ones shown on the textbook in the photo. Ask the children to show 4 cubes and 6 cubes and ask them to tell the number of cubes. Initially, they may need to rely on counting to respond correctly. After a while, the results will be remembered. Other additional support to help them remember is to review them for a few minutes each day. Or put up poster of common numbers bonds in the classroom for the childrent to see them. Or you can write songs about 10 is 3 and 7 for them to sing!

As number bonds is to help children with mental computations, the written steps are not necessary for students to write. In fact, sometimes I find the kids get confused by it. The representation is more for teachers to see the way to split the number up. In teaching children to add 5 + 7 + 6 as shown in the textbbok, with the help of unifix cubes, show children how you would break 7 into two numbers so that they can make 10 with 5. Say, "I want to make 10. So I break 7 into 5 and 2. This 5 and that 5 make 10." Then, continue with simple addition, "This 2 and that 6 make 8." Finally, "What does this 10 and that 8 make? 18? That's great!" Let them try the same process with breaking 6 to make ten with 7. You must give children concrete materials to model the process. Coins, seed and other common materials can be used if you do not have unifix cubes. Remember that this is done in the second half of the year. In the first half, they have learn how to do the first step - breaking numbers up in different ways and making ten.

Question posed by Yunia (Indonesia), a grade one teacher.

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