We’ve been busy planting in the garden almost everyday and with a 2 and 4 year-old our yard, work inevitably turns into bug hunting.  So I took my 4 year old’s fascination with insects and used it to practice number bonds with this simple, quick prep activity.

And if you’re into all kinds of math fun, check out our Place Value Cover Up activity in our shop!

Number bonds are pictorial representations of part-part-whole relationships. They help kids see how a whole number can be decomposed into smaller parts.  Using number bonds to show how numbers relate can lead to a deeper understanding of math facts.

Getting Ready

To prep for the activity, I first grabbed my supplies:

    • White Paper
    • Colored Paper {optional}
    • A Glue Stick {optional}
    • Marker {or other writing instrument}
    • Highlighter {or yellow marker if your child needs help writing numbers}
    • Do-A-Dot Stampers or Stickers
    • Plastic Bugs {I picked up some sticky, squishy ones from the dollar bin}
    • Bucket
    • Sand or Dirt

This was my daughter’s first time working with number bonds so I started off by simply focusing on a single number: the number 5.

I used my handy-dandy circle punch to quickly punch out 4 yellow circles {for the whole number} and 8 green circles {for the decomposed numbers} from card stock and glued them on plain white paper to create two number bond worksheets.

I made the circles different colors to help A visually see the difference between whole and part.  {If you don’t have a circle punch you could just as easily draw different colored circles}

Fun, bug-themed way to teach kids about part-part whole numbers. {Playdough to Plato}

I then put a couple handfuls of sand in the bucket, threw in 5 bugs, grabbed the markers and invited my very eager daughter over to play.

Bug Number Bonds

I explained to A that we were going to see how many different ways we could make the number five.

I told her there were five bugs in the bucket and asked her to reach into the bucket to see how many she could get without peeking.

She reached in and grabbed two squishy bugs, screamed, and threw them back into the bucket.

Fun, bug-themed way to teach kids about part-part whole numbers. {Playdough to Plato}

I showed her they were just pretend bugs then and, despite my laughter, convinced her to try again.

Again, she grabbed two bugs and we laid them out on the table to count.  I asked A how many more bugs she needed to make five.  “Three,” she said after using her fingers to count up from two.  I asked her to reach into the bucket to get the rest of the bugs.

Normally, A loves holding insects but she was really sketched out by the squishy fake ones in the sand.  So she used the extra clean ones as counters.

Number Bonds

After I wrote the number 5 in the first yellow circle with the highlighter, I asked her how many bugs she grabbed from the bucket.  “Two,” she answered and I wrote the number 2 in the first green circle for her to trace over.

“When you had two bugs, how many more did you need to make five?’ I asked.  A looked down at the squishy bugs she had just counted and replied, “three!”  She filled in the second green circle with a 3.

I had A use a Do-A-Dot stamper to make the corresponding number of dots next to the green circles. Later, I used a black marker to turn these dots into beetles.

Number Bonds

We repeated the exercise again. This time A nervously reached in and grabbed one bug and quickly threw it down on the table.  It’s not how I intended the activity to go but this version was way more entertaining!

Number Bonds

Again, A counted up from one using her fingers to figure out she needed four more bugs to make five total bugs.  After she had filled in the next number bond on the worksheet, she stamped out 1 and 4 dots next to the green circles.

Number Bonds

We repeated the exercise two more times until we had figured out all the different ways to compose the number five. Despite getting the heebie-jeebies, A enjoyed composing the number five.  She was especially thrilled to see her worksheets after I turned her dot stamps into beetles.

Fun, bug-themed way to teach kids about part-part whole numbers. {Playdough to Plato}

Find More

Try out other fun ways to practice numbers with our Place Value Cover Up!

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