The Cherbourg Primary Number Fact Challenge!

Since the introduction of the new National Curriculum in 2013, there has been a greater emphasis placed on children knowing number facts. One of the most important sets of number facts are 'Number Bonds'.

For many, ‘number bonds’ is an unfamiliar term until they are parents of children in Key Stage 1. Therefore it is a part of maths they do not understand and do not feel equipped to help their children learn. However, since the introduction of our ‘Number Fact Challenge’ booklets, we at Cherbourg hope that we have got rid of that ‘fear’ for parents and made number bonds a more familiar term. Simplistically, number bonds involve simple addition and subtraction calculations.

What is a Number Bond?

A number bond is a pair of numbers that add up to make another number.

For example;

Number bonds to 10 are:

0+10, 1+9, 2+8, 3+7, 4+6, 5+5

A child who learns these sums will be able to add up to 10 and quickly see that if you reverse them to:

10+0, 9 +1, 8+2, 7+3, 6+4, 5+5

they also make 10.

Why are Number Bonds Useful?

Number bonds provide children with a mental picture of the relationship between 2 numbers. These mental pictures are key to enabling your child to do mental arithmetic accurately and speedily. Knowing addition number bonds means that your child will develop an understanding of subtraction with more ease.

If they know that 6+4 = 10 they will quickly realise that when they see 10 - 6 = ?, the answer is 4 because, by a process of elimination, 4 is the missing number in this number bond.

It helps children to understand subtraction as the inverse (opposite) of addition. They begin to see the patterns in numbers and to learn mathematical principles rather than having to memorise each individual sum.

Number bonds are the foundation blocks your child needs to progress with maths. Once they know all of the number bonds for 1-10, they will have the information they need to subtract using the numbers 1-10.

How can you Help Your Children to Learn Their Number Bonds?

Alongside our ‘Number Fact Challenge’ booklets, the best way to teach number bonds is to use games. Which games work best is dependent on the age of the child and their understanding of numbers and their relationship to each other. The more familiar children are with numbers the easier it is for them to learn any form of maths. So, the number one rule is to make numbers a daily part of even very young children’s lives. Singing counting songs, showing them cartoons with number recognition and counting weaved into a story help a lot. However, far more effective is to build numbers into play. For example, using blocks.

Block Games for Number Bonds

To teach the number bonds for 3 layout 3 blocks on the floor and ask your child how many blocks there are? Then, tell the child you are going to move some blocks. Move 2 aside and ask the child how many blocks you have moved. When they answer correctly ask them how many blocks are left? Finally move the 2 blocks back into the original pile and ask them:-

How many blocks are in the pile now?

By doing this you have just shown your child that 3 – 2 = 1 and 1 + 2 = 3.

Repeat the process removing and adding back just one block and you have just reinforced the other part of the number bond which is 2 + 1 = 3 and 3 – 2 = 1.

When your child can follow this block game and answer correctly you will have successfully taught your child one of the number bonds for the number 3.

Other Games For Number Bonds

For older children rolling 2 dice and asking them to add the dice together is a good way for them to practice their number bonds. As is getting them to help you to lay the table, but only give them enough plates for some of the guests. Then ask them to work out how many more plates are needed and tell you. If you have 10 guests give them 7 plates and let them tell you they need 3 more.

Reinforcing Number Bonds Using Everyday Situations

Learning number bonds is key to a child’s future maths success. The children that do best at learning number bonds have the support of their parents and the rest of their family. They are given the chance to practice basic addition and subtraction, which is really all number bonds are, in their daily life.

An example of this is arranging a family party and asking your child to work out how many guests are expected in total. They will know that your sister’s family consists of 4 people your own family has 5 people in it and that Nan and Granddad together make 2 people. So with the aid of a piece of paper, their own fingers, M&Ms or blocks, they can add 5 to 4 to make 9, then add 2 to that to make 11.

You can carry things even further by asking your child to work out how many sandwiches are needed. For example, 11 people are coming, but Granddad does not eat sandwiches, so 11 – 1 means you need enough sandwiches for 10 people. For each person who eats sandwiches you need 2 each, so 10 + 10 = 20 sandwiches.

Below you will also find web-based activities for helping your child to learn their number bonds.

How will The Number Fact Challenge work?

To ensure it makes maximum impact on the children’s learning, the children will take the Number Fact Challenge pack home to work on as part of their maths homework - 3 times a week each week. In order to progress on to the next award, your child needs to achieve full marks on three separate occasions in a times table test given by the teacher once a week during a mathematics lesson.

The test will be timed (five or ten minutes depending on the child’s stage) to ensure the children are calculating the answers mentally rather than finding the answer with support.  Once your child has completed the challenge and achieved a certificate for the award, they will have the opportunity to earn an additional certificate through the ‘Plus’ system.

The Plus Awards

Each award will have a ‘Plus’ award which will enable the children to use their ‘inverse’ knowledge to recall the related subtraction facts with speed and accuracy. To become a ‘Master’, your child will need to be able to recall a range of addition and subtraction number bonds. 

We feel having a whole school approach will enthuse Cherbourg pupils as they have shown they enjoy accepting learning challenges and it ensure continuity across the school. We would like all children to achieve and succeed with their Number Fact Challenges and whilst we will continue working with the children to learn their number bonds at school, we would like them to also be encouraged to practise at home.

To support home learning, you can find all the award sets provided below.

Ruby & Ruby+
Pearl & Pearl+
Diamond & Diamond+

With thanks to Marnel Infant School.

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