Number Bonds in Math
There were farm animals everywhere, and I could see that my small group were anxious to play games with the animals. Fortunately, my students knew the difference between toys and math tools, so number bonds won the day! Experience won out, and they focused on their number bonds sheets.
I should probably mention that the animals were little plastic farm animals. 🙃
Number bonds are more than just a mathematical concept. They powerfully support student understanding of the relationships between numbers.
A deep understanding of number bonds can support students far beyond beginning primary mathematical understanding of fact families.
Number bonds can be used to:
- Explore higher level operations
- Problem solve and use critical thinking
- Understand geometric shapes and fractions
- Break down larger numbers into component parts to add or subtract.
Connecting to my earlier post.
Number bonds are exactly what they sound like. The bond, or connection, between numbers.
They are simultaneously the concrete realty of sets of objects joined together, and the bridge between numbers in the concrete form and number bonds practice sheet.
In my previous post I discussed the importance of a strong grounding in basic counting and addition prior to number bond instruction. Especially prior to using number bond sheets.
As they grow in their understanding of numbers, number bonds centers allow students to progress at their own pace.
Number bonds provide a framework that can be adapted to each student’s unique learning speed and style.
Using number bonds sheets for differentiation in primary mathematics
Differentiation is one of what I consider the 5 pillars of classroom management.
Learning to use and visualize number bonds allows students ato progress at their own pace and have their learning style supported.
According to Carol Tomlinson, a leader in differentiation in the classroom, there are 4 pillars of differentiation: 1) Content, 2) Process, 3) Product, and 4) Learning Environment.
I have already addressed how number bonds support differentiation in an earlier blog post. I won’t take a deep dive into the nitty gritty of differentiation with number bonds at a concrete level here.
However, I will quickly touch base on how number bonds support differentiation.
This is true for students transitioning from the concrete (ie: plastic teddy bears) to the representational (ie: drawings of plastic teddy bears) to the abstract (ie: numbers representing groups of plastic teddy bears).
Number bonds cater to students at various proficiency levels.
Maybe you’re introducing number bonds centers to first graders to teach them the basics of counting and adding.
Meanwhile, your grade 2 students are exploring more complex relationships. Take doubles, and then using the number bond practice sheets using drawings instead of numbers. Students make the visual representation of the jump to doubles plus one?
Number bonds will remain adaptable throughout math learning, providing a continuous learning journey.
When students have a foundational knowledge of number bonds, they can break numbers down independently with more confidence.
These explorations support their overall understanding of larger and more complex numbers and number bonds.
Incorporating number bonds sheets into learning pace
- Are students still working with the concrete?
- Connecting the concrete a drawing of a number bond would come next. Preferably these drawings would start with a student’s own drawings. Possibly with the drawings being added to number bonds sheets.
- Can the students understand the connection between the abstract numbers the concrete objects and the representational drawings they made?
- Students who need additional support may benefit from targeted exercises to reinforce their understanding?
- If students grasp concepts quickly they can be provided with more challenging number bond activities or extensions. Meanwhile those who need additional support have it.
Incorporating number bonds sheets for student learning style
- Tactile learners can use manipulatives alongside the number bonds sheets to support the connections and understanding there?
- Maybe they prefer a pictorial number bond sheet to a numeral based equation?
- Visual learners who have found the number bond image provided by number bonds sheets sufficient, and preferable to an equation.
Using number bonds sheets to differentiate product
- Have visual students draw a number bond on their own instead of using an equation. Or use number bond sheets to record their understanding.
- Tactile learners can prepare their understanding using concrete materials. This will support their drawing or more abstract equations or number bond using the number bond sheets.
- Auditory learners can create the number bond in whatever format they are most comfortable. Then they would share it with you or a peer verbally. Sometimes I have found that auditory students are best supported if they just think out loud in discussion with others. Then they may be ready to share their understanding with an equation, their own drawing, or a number bonds template.
- The options raised in the first 3 pillars create a sense of safety, acceptance and opportunity which changes the environment.
Teachers can use number bonds and number bond worksheets to tailor student’s individual learning experiences to support differentiation in math.
Exploring Higher-Level Operations:
Suppose you have a group of students who have mastered addition and have learned to use number bonds for subtractions.
You can seamlessly transition them to more advanced operations like multiplication and division.
When understanding multiplication, students can visualize the concept by breaking numbers down into their prime factors through number bonds.
When teaching more elaborate concepts I would encourage students to draw their own bonds, rather than using a number bonds practice sheets.
This not only deepens their understanding but also accelerates their readiness for more complex math.
Connecting mental math mastery with number bonds
The skills developed through number bonds go far beyond the classroom.
The ability to understand number relationships builds a solid foundation for various mathematical concepts and real-world problem-solving scenarios.
Advanced problem-solving is another area where number bonds shine.
Students can tackle multi-step word problems by decomposing numbers into their bonds, making complex equations more accessible.
They become one of the available tools in a differentiated classroom.
By using number bonds, students can handle ever more challenging real-world scenarios and develop strong critical thinking skills.
Quick-thinking students can readily harness the power of number bonds when they do. As mentioned, they can swiftly add or subtract larger numbers in their heads by breaking them down into manageable bond components.
Provide your students with repeated opportunities to use and become comfortable exploring with number bonds.
They can fly ahead into more challenging territories while maintaining a strong grasp of foundational concepts.
Incorporate specific examples of adaptability into your classroom. Show students how number bonds become a dynamic tool for learning. Ensure that advanced learners are continually stimulated and enriched in their mathematical education.
Meanwhile, you are scaffolding support in a variety of ways for all of your students.
Number bond sheets in the classroom
Number bonds sheets are not, in and of themselves, sufficient to completely provide differentiation in math instruction.
However, they are a valuable part of an overall math program including developing differentiation in classroom instruction.
Because of this, they are included in all of my Write the Room math resources to support you as you support your students.
One of the goals here at Engaging Curiosity is to help teachers to reclaim their personal time. By providing differentiated math worksheets including number bonds sheets, I hope to accomplish that in some small way.
Thank you so much for joining me here today. My other posts that have been mentioned throughout this post are listed below for your convenience.
Share some way you use number bonds or number bonds sheets in the comments below. Please keep it clean and kind, and remember that when you share you are supporting fellow educators.
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