Number Bonds up to 10

A number bond is simply a pair of numbers that adds up to another number. "Getting" how numbers are made up is a crucial skill for children and provides a foundation for so much that comes after, particularly addition and subtraction, so a really good understanding of number bonds - and even some learning by rote of number bonds to 10 - can be very useful at this stage.

If you can help a child to understand that a number can be "broken into pieces" or "decomposed" in a variety of different ways, you are on the right track! Your ultimate aim is for the children to be able to recall all the number bonds to 10 easily and instantly.

Making a Start with Number Bonds

  • Start with 5 - it's an easy one for the kids to grasp.
  • Break it up! This is a really good introductory activity for starting to teach children the concept of number bonds.
    • Take a stack of small paper plates. Grab a collection of similar objects, such as counters, animals, snap cubes (or Lego bricks) - or cookies, if you dare. Give your child 5 objects and ask them to count them then to put them onto 2 plates.
    • Put that pair of plates together as a pair, and place 2 more plates below it. Give your child another 5 objects and ask them to count them, then find another way to put the object on the plates.
    • Repeat, with guidance if necessary, until you have 6 pairs of plates with 0 + 5, 5 + 0, 1 + 4, 4 + 1, 3 + 2 and 2 + 3 objects on them. (Note: some children will recognise that some of these pairs are in fact the same. If your child does, just remove the extra pairs and leave 3 in total).
    • Look at the pairs of plates and make number sentences like this:
      • 3 bricks and 2 bricks make 5 bricks altogether.
      • We can make 5 bricks by using 4 bricks and 1 brick.
      • So now we know that 1 and 4 make 5.
      • We can split 5 bricks into 5 on one plate and zero on the other plate. That means 5 and zero make five.
    • Discuss whether making 5 from 3 and 2 is the same as making 5 into 2 and 3.
    • Write out the number bonds for 5. You can use our blank Break It Up Number Bond Worksheets below.
    • When your child is happy with number bonds for 5, move on to another number with the same process.
  • Make number bond bracelets. You will need pipe cleaners (chenille stems) and pony beads in assorted colours. Make one bracelet for each number from 3 to 10, using the same colour of bead for each individual number (and ideally a different colour for each number if possible). Thread the correct number of beads onto the pipe cleaner and then fix it into a circle by bending the ends over each other (you might want to cut a little off to make it manageable, but the kids won't wear these bracelets, just use them as manipulatives). Using a mailing label or something similar, fold it in half over the join so that it sticks to itself to form a tag and then write the number on it. Children can now "break" the beads up into different combinations to get a hands on experience of number bonds.
  • Use printables. You can use our Break It Up printable or our I Can Make Number Bonds Mats with counters or other small objects to revise what you have learned. You will find them in the Resources section below

More Number Bond Ideas

  • Use snap cubes (or Lego bricks) in two different colours. Build a tower of bricks using as many different combinations of the same 2 colours as possible. Start by building 6 towers for the number bonds of 5. Children could colour the different towers on our Number Bond Tower Posters and Number Bond Tower Worksheets from the Resources section below.
  • Sit and stand. Grab 5 children - or your target number. Ask 1 child to sit. Make the number sentence: "1 child is sitting and 4 children are standing. How many children altogether?" Now ask another child to sit and change the sentence: "2 children are sitting and 3 children are standing. How many children altogether?" Work through until you have all 5 children sitting, then get them all standing up again. Each time encourage them to call out how many children there are altogether. Follow this activity by writing out the number bonds together.
  • Ten Towers. Print out our blank Ten Towers (below) and cut them to the size of the number bond you are learning. Ask the children to colour in the Ten Tower in as many different combinations of two colours as possible.
  • Mix and Match cards. Print out our (large) set of Mix and Match number bond cards and turn them in to double-sided flash cards following the instructions on that page. Use only the cards that relate to the number bonds as your child learns them. They can use the flash cards to test themselves by looking at the equation and saying the answer out loud or to themselves before turning the card over to see if they got it right. You could also encourage them to look for other number bonds for the same number.

Number Bonds to 10

  • Aim for instant recall of the numbers bonds to 10.
  • Ten Towers. Print out our blank Ten Towers (below) and ask the children to colour in the Ten Tower in as many different combinations of two colours as possible.
  • Play Snap Challenge. At any random time during the day call out "Snap Challenge - Number Bonds to 10 - I give you 4!" Your child must quickly answer 6! Give 3 or 4 challenges at a time. Encourage your child to Snap Challenge you, too.
  • Worksheets. You will find our Number Bonds to 10 worksheets from the Resources section below.

Our Number Bond Resources

Break It Up Printable

Break It Up Printable

Used to help children understand and learn number bonds, this printable comes in colour or black and white (which can be printed onto coloured card, if you wish). Take any number of counters from 2 to 10 (5 is a good number to start with) and place them in the WHOLE section.

Car Matching Number Bonds to 10

Car Matching Number Bonds to 10

Print out this lovely set of cars onto card and cut out the pieces. We've kept the outline nice and simple to make it a relatively easy job. Can the children match up the cars to make 10?

I can make number bonds mat

I Can Make Number Bonds Mat

Print our I Can Make Number Bonds mat onto white or coloured card and laminate if you wish for repeat use. Use it with a collection of small objects, counters or snap cubes to help children work out how larger numbers can be broken into smaller parts - in other words, number bonds.

Mix and Match Number Bond Cards up to 10

Mix and Match Number Bond Cards up to 10

This set of mix and match cards - a 17 page pdf file - covers all the maths facts up to 10. We've designed it so that you can use it to make quick double-sided flash cards.

Number bond challenge worksheets set 1

Number Bond Challenge Worksheets Set 1

Help the kids get to grips with number bonds with this set of 4 fun worksheets. We provide 2 of the numbers and ask the children to fill in the 3rd. And there's an extra little challenge on each worksheet, too.

Number Bond Tower Posters

Number Bond Tower Posters

This set of posters shows us building towers of snap cubes to illustrate number bonds from 3 to 10. Use them to prompt your own tower building, or for reference in the classroom perhaps.

Number Bond Tower Worksheets

Number Bond Tower Worksheets

We've provided towers of snap cubes for the kids to colour, and the number bond "sums" to help them do it. Now all they need to do is grab 2 colours and work their way through, learning (or revising) their number bonds as they go.

Number Bond Triangles

Number Bond Triangles to 10

These useful number bond cards come in colour or black and white and can be used to help children learn their number bonds to 10, addition within 10, subtraction within 10 and fact families.

Number Bracelet Recording Sheets

Number Bracelet Recording Sheets

Use these recording sheets with the kids to write down the various number bonds you have found with your home-made number bracelets. Get the kids to draw the various combinations of beads on the bracelets and then write the equations below.

Owl Number Bonds Blank

Owl Number Bonds Blank

We've done 2 sizes, 2 colours and 1 black and white of our number bond owls, for use in your number bond / addition work. Cut out and laminate if you wish, although it's not necessary. Then use with counters or beads.

Owl Number Bonds to 5 Digits

Owl Number Bonds to 5 Digits

Print and cut out these cards and get the kids to put them back together again so that each owl adds up to 5. We have colour and black and white versions (these look great printed onto coloured card) and UK and US school fonts.

Owl Number Bonds to 5 Stars

Owl Number Bonds to 5 Stars

Available in colour or black and white (print onto coloured card for a fun effect), these owl number bond cards are cut in half for the children to count and put back together again.

Rainbow Number Bonds Posters to 5

Rainbow Number Bonds Posters to 5

This 6-page pdf file illustrates all the number bonds to 5 in lovely rainbow format. These would look lovely on display in the classroom, and would be fun to click through on the whiteboard, too. We have a matching worksheet, too.

Ten Towers - Blank, Black and White

Ten Towers Blank Black and White

Here is a simple page of blank black and white ten towers to print and cut out. Laminate for repeat use or stick them into a workbook. Alternatively cut the whole block of ten towers out or just turn the page and use them for counting and number activities.

Ten Towers Number Bonds to 10

Ten Towers Number Bonds to 10

This set of Ten Towers includes "counters" illustrating the possible number bonds to 10. Cut them out separately for counting and number bond practice, or cut them out as blocks and join together to make a colourful wall chart or mat.

Watch a Video

An excellent video explaining how children learn number bonds "hands on" with Singapore Maths

Number bonds to 10...

Next Steps ...

Addition within 10
Addition within 10

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