Two weeks ago, I wrote a post on how to teach decomposing numbers using Jack-o-lantern faces and by drawing in the teeth. Today I will show you some other fun ways to teach decomposing numbers that can be used throughout the year, and give you a few more free downloads to help you teach it! All of the blackline masters you see in the photos below are included for you today to use free of charge.
As you may recall, decomposing numbers is teaching kids to break numbers down into their parts, and children are supposed to learn this as part of the Common Core State Standards. For example, kids are supposed to learn that they can take any number (let’s say number four) and break it down into the sums that make that number.
Therefore, four is the same as:
- four plus zero
- three plus one
- two plus two
- one plus three
- zero plus four.
Decomposing numbers is different from addition in that we are starting with a set amount of objects to count, and then moving them around. For example, if I have four apples, I can put one on a plate and three off the plate, and still have four. Moving on from there, I can put two on the plate and two off the plate, etc. If you would like to have a more thorough explanation, please read my post on Decomposing Numbers with Jack-o-lanters for more information.
Well, since we can’t really go on doing lessons with Jack-o-lanterns all year long, I created some other pages that you could use for the same purpose. Read on for more!
But here are some basic words of advice:
- If you need the kids to do more than four number combinations, you’ll have to either copy the pages on the front and the back, or tape an extra square on the front as I did.
- Doing the page with manipulatives (real objects) first is a HUGE benefit to the children and helps them understand what you mean.
- Gluing down real objects turned out to be a FABULOUS IDEA and works great! But you will need to allow the children more time for this. (See the Q-Tips idea.)
- DO have the children mark their papers with something that can be “fixed” if they make a mistake. Stickers can usually be pulled up and moved, so they are okay.
- Using dry erase markers to draw the pumpkins, apples, or leaves, etc., works very well because it is so easy to erase. It also doesn’t matter much if you’re not done in the allotted amount of time.
- You will see that I did one of the pages below with paint. That turned out to be a BIG mistake! Don’t do it! Use manipulatives, stickers, dry erase markers, or pencils if necessary, but DON’T USE PAINT unless you want to let the children just paint the trees as they wish. LOL!
- It is easiest to number the boxes before you copy them if you are doing this as a guided lesson so that everyone knows which box to work on. My students got confused as they watched me mark my paper “upside down,” if you know what I mean. I needed a way to hold it up (like with an easel) but there wasn’t one handy.
1. Pumpkins (or Other Things!) On or Off the Fence
This is a nice, easy idea! I used white stickers because I didn’t have time to go find any pumpkin stickers. So I gave the children markers and told them to turn them into pumpkins when we were finished!
Of course, once I gave them markers with other colors than orange, then NONE of the stickers looked like pumpkins, naturally! But I expected as much.
But the objects on the fence wouldn’t have to be pumpkins, right? They could be cats, pieces of flowers, fruit, leaves, mice, or any other thing that you could think of.
2. Apples (or Blossoms!) On or Off the Tree
The photos I have below were done by my friend Ann Spencer that tried this page out for me in her Kindergarten classroom and then sent me the pictures. (Check Ann’s blog post about it here!) She had her students use apple erasers for the manipulatives (LOVE that!) She grouped the children in pairs and had one child arrange the apples on the page, and the other child record the equation.
She had her students record their equations with dry erase markers on little slips of laminated papers that she got from a Guiding Kinders Math Pack made by Deanna Jump! I do not wish to infringe on her copyrighted ideas, so I’ll leave it to you to either purchase that pack or make your own. (The bundle at the link is $85 because there are resources there for a whole year long program. I am not sure which unit that particular slip of paper came from, though!)
3. Fall Leaves On or Under the Bare Tree
Here’s another idea for you with a tree, but this tree has only bare branches, so I really intended it to be for fall leaves! I meant to go get some leaf stickers, but alas- it was not to be! So I made do- with PAINT. What a MISTAKE! Do not try this at home! LOL!
The biggest reason why paint didn’t work well is because once the children put a dot of paint down, you can hardly fix a mistake. I tried a few times to wipe away an extra “leaf” with my finger, but it didn’t work very well. It was good that I had a couple of extra papers prepped. Of the FOUR kids in that group, THREE of them had to start completely over after the first tree! I had to laugh at my mistake- because it really was MY mistake!
4. “Skeleton Bones” Above or Below the Line (Q-Tips!)
The last idea that I have for you today is to have the children glue down real objects to help them decompose numbers, such as Q-tips. So in this case, rather than draw the objects, they are simply placing them on the page and gluing them down.
I told my students that were going to find all of the ways to make four by arranging and gluing down “SKELETON BONES!!!” Unfortunately, they weren’t buying it! There was a chorus of, “Nuh UH! Those are for EAR WAX!!!” LOL! So I told them that we were going to use our imaginations and PRETEND that they were skeleton bones! So I had them draw a horizontal line down the middle of their papers with a white crayon, glue down one combination of four, draw a vertical line, and then start again making another combination of four.
The children had no problem at all with this, but it would have gone better had I either drawn the lines for them on the papers ahead of time, or if I had even folded them to make the lines. I did think about this, but I didn’t want to fold them for fear that the papers would not lay flat and it would make it harder to glue down the “bones.”
It did take a bit longer to do this activity with gluing than it did to simply draw or lay down stickers, so if you choose to have kids do this be sure to allow a little extra time!
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