Structuring Numbers Activities

Thursday, July 6, 2017
Teach those students to structure! It's a bit surprising how many students even in upper grades don't have these skills. Once these skills are solid, student understanding of deeper material will be much more fluid! Here is a roundup of all the ways I guide my students to structuring numbers to 10! These activities can easily be adjusting to 5s and 20s.
First, let's talk materials! For students to really understand structuring numbers, they need to see visual representations and get their hands on materials! Here are the materials I have in my class that I use regularly:
  • ten frames: you can easily print them off from various free resources or find a variety of them HERE; I also grabbed some amazing magnetic ten frames on Amazon HERE
  • rekenreks: grab some on Amazon HERE or you can easily make your own
  • dominoes: grab some on Amazon HERE
  • 10-sided dice: grab them HERE
  • irregular dot patterns: grab them HERE
  • deck of cards
Now, here are a couple ways you can quickly and easily use each of these materials. There are so many varieties that you'll be set for lessons!

Flash Materials
Quickly flash one of the materials at the students - they should see it for approximately one second. Then turn it back over and ask the students the following questions. How many on the top? How many on the bottom? How many altogether? How many to make 10? Students can also practice this activity with a partner. One partner flashes and the other responds. You can do this with any of the materials listed above giving you so many days of small group lessons!

Quick Writes
Flash a material like above. Students will then write the number on a whiteboard. You could also have students write the pair to make 10 or have them write a number model that represents the material.

Number Talks
Show students a material. Ask them what the students see and how they see it. Students start to build great conversations around combinations of numbers. Check out Sherry Parrish's Number Talks book. It is AMAZING and so worth it!

Screened Collections
Show a bead rack or counters and screen a portion of it. Students will then have to work out a solution while transferring to mental math strategies. This works really great for the rekenreks. Show an amount, say 3, and keep the remaining 7 screened. Students will have to figure out how many are missing.

Number Construction
Give students a material to work with. Ask them to construct a number. Watch and observe how students construct that number. Then ask them to construct another. Observe how they manipulate their setting - do they clear the setting completely or simply adjust it? You can build strong math talk around this as well by having students describe their setting to each other, what they see and notice, as well as how they adjusted their setting.

Adding and Subtracting Numbers
Give students addition and subtraction problems where they can use their setting to manipulate the beads or counters. This will give students a more concrete representation and students will start to notice they can use 5s and 10s as anchors.

Games such as Make 10 Go Fish and Make 10 Memory with a deck of cards are super engaging for students. You can also find some engaging Bingo and Race games HERE. I also snagged this Shut the Box game on Amazon HERE that my students absolutely LOVE!

How do you teach structuring in your classroom? The best part is all of these activities can easily be adjusted for structuring numbers to 5 or 20!

You can check out another blog post I wrote HERE about some of the ways you can specifically use ten frames in your instruction!


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