Monster Number Bonds: Free Printable

Do your Kindergarteners need some extra help with number bonds? This free Monster Number Bonds activity is perfect for them! It’s a fun, hands-on way to explore the connections between numbers. The activity is quick to prepare, and kids will love it. Let’s take a look at how to set this up in your classroom.

close up of number bond mat in use

This resource works well with these Simply Kinder products

What Are Number Bonds?

Number bonds are the pairs of numbers that add together to make up a larger number. For example, the number bond for the number seven would be the following sets of numbers

  • 3+4
  • 4+3
  • 5+2
  • 2+5
  • 1+6
  • 6+1

Number bonds can also be thought of as part of a whole; they are two parts that come together to make a whole.

Why Are Number Bonds Important?

Number bonds are a crucial foundation for understanding addition and subtraction. Once students understand that seven can be made from pairs of smaller numbers, they can begin to see how addition and subtraction work.

Number bonds also help students to see relationships between numbers. These relationships are essential in assisting the students in understanding more complex mathematical concepts.

Naturally, we have the option of asking students to commit number bonds to memory, but we would advise that. It is far better if students understand how our numbering system works before memorizing anything.

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Building a Strong Understanding

There are some specific concepts students must understand to develop number sense.

Our Number System Has Consistent Patterns

There is a pattern to our number system. Once students understand this, they can easily see relationships between numbers. Once that happens, math concepts become a lot easier to grasp.

The Sum Remains The Same even If You Switch Around The Parts

This is an important concept for students to understand. It doesn’t matter what order the numbers are written in. The sum will always be the same. For example, 2+3 and 3+2 both equal 5. It makes no difference which number comes first.

We Can Take Apart Numbers

For example, smaller numbers can be added to make a single, larger number (3+4 =7). We can also break that larger number into smaller ones. For example, 7 can be split into 2 numbers, 6 and 1. This is a more advanced concept, but it’s one that students need to understand to be successful in mathematics.

This may seem like a lot for young students, and it is. Your students will need lots of hands-on practice before their brains can grasp these concepts. Directed play with manipulatives is a great way to help your students start to develop this kind of number sense. That is where our free Monster Number Bonds activity comes in. It is a fun, hands-on way for your students to explore these big ideas.

Close up of a monter number bond mat

Free Printable Number Bonds Activity

Counting as you place a physical object is one of the best ways to connect the numerals with an actual experience of the number. Our free number bond mats invite students to play with number bonds concretely and visually. This allows the students to experience the numbers. Each mat features a cute monster, and there is enough space to use a variety of manipulatives.

The mats are designed for use with Kinders and first grade. Use them in math centers, small group work, or pull them out for early finishers. You can also point parents to this post, so they can download a set to use with their child for extra practice.

There are a few prerequisite skills needed for this activity. Children must be able to count to 12 and record numbers.

Close up of a monter number bond mat

Preparing the Number Bonds Activity

  1. You will need to download and print the monster mats and number cards onto white cardstock.
  2. We strongly advise laminating them all so that they last.
  3. Cut apart the number cards and place them in a pile to one side.
  4. Place two dice with the games. You will also need at least 12 manipulatives. Use whatever you have on hand (such as buttons, pom poms, or counters). It might be fun to use some tiny plastic spiders or mini erasers.
  5. Print out some recording sheets onto paper.
Close up of a monter number bond mat

How To Use The Number Bonds Activity

  1. Start by rolling two dice, count the dots of the first one, and put the same number of spiders on one of the squares. Demonstrate how to write the number on the worksheet.
  2. Count the dots of the second dice and, this time, put the spiders on the other square. Write the number in the correct place on the worksheet.
  3. Now it is time to count the total of manipulatives in the two boxes. Find and place the correct number card on the mat. If you prefer, students can use whiteboard markers to write the number on the mat. Then write it on the worksheet.
  4. Discuss how you counted the spiders in both squares to get the total. Point to the number sentence and fill it in together.
close up of the recording sheets with number bonds for seven

Thinking Out Loud

Speaking your thoughts out loud is an excellent way to model mathematical thinking to students. You can do this to help the children understand how to find different pairs of number bonds. Do something like this.

“The sum 7 is made by adding two smaller numbers. One of them is 4, and the other one is 3. Now we know 4 and 3 make 7. Let’s find other ways to make 7.”

Invite the children to switch the contents of the two squares to get the ball rolling, so you have 3 and 4. Count everything again and then write the number sentence on the worksheet. Continue to model mathematical thinking.

“What happens if I move two spiders from this square into the other square? How many do we have in each square now?” Count everything and write the number sentence on the sheet.

Continue this way until you have found all the number bonds (or enough to fill in the sheet). Some numbers, such as 2, will have no variations, but some higher numbers will have loads of different combinations. Children who enjoy this activity might try to find all the different number bonds to these higher numbers. They can use the back of the sheet to record all the variations.

Once they get the hang of it, invite the children to work in pairs to find lots of different number bonds.

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Extension: What’s The Missing Number?

This is a great way to extend the activity for children who are ready for a challenge. You will need the number cards 7-12.

Place a number card on the sheet and roll the dice to find out how many manipulatives go in the first square. Then invite the children to figure out how many manipulatives should go on the other square to make the total.

More Math Activities

We hope you enjoy this activity and that it helps your Kindergarteners learn their number bonds! Here are some more math activities to help make learning fun.

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