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What Are Number Bonds? Explained For Primary Parents And Kids

Number bonds are pairs of numbers that can be added together to make another number e.g. 4 + 6 = 10. They are some of the most basic and most important parts of maths for children to learn.

This article is part of our series designed for parents supporting home learning and looking for home learning packs. It is suitable for those families doing regular or flexible home schooling or as part of additional support you may need during any lockdowns and time away from school due to Covid-19.

What are number bonds?

A number bond is a pair of numbers that always add together to make another, larger, number. Children are introduced to this concept through number bonds to 10: 0 + 10, 1 + 9, 2 + 8, 3 + 7, 4 + 6, and 5 + 5.

These are the foundations of many other key number bonds – if children can fluently recall their number bonds to 10, they will be able to calculate number bonds to other multiples of 10.

This can then be developed to larger multiples of 10 (such as multiples of 100) and even decimal number bonds (e.g. 0.3 + 0.7 = 1). Children should also be able to calculate the corresponding subtraction facts for these number bonds, e.g. if 1 + 9 = 10, then 10 – 1 = 9 and 10 – 9 = 1.

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When will my child learn about number bonds in primary school?

Your child may already have come across number bonds in EYFS, but the National Curriculum introduces the concept in Year 1, where children will represent and use number bonds and related subtraction facts within 20.

The non-statutory guidance also advises that Year 1 pupils memorise and reason with number bonds to 10 and 20 in several forms (for example, 9 + 7 = 16; 16 – 7 = 9; 7 = 16 – 9). The NC states that by the end of year 2, pupils should know the number bonds to 20 and be precise in using and understanding place value. An emphasis on practice at this early stage will aid fluency.

Wondering about how to explain other key maths vocabulary to your children? Check out our Primary Maths Dictionary, or try these other terms related to number bonds:

Practice questions

1. Complete these sums. One is done for you.

3 + 7 = 10
33 + __ = 40
__ + 7 = 80

(Answer: 7 and 73)

2. Write numbers on the lines to make this correct.

60 + __ = 100 = 20 + ___

(Answer: 40 and 80)

3. Write the next three sums in the pattern:

1 + 9 = 10
2 + 8 = 10
3 + 7 = 10

(Answer: 4+6, 5+5, 6+4)

4. Use your knowledge of number bonds to answer this calculation:

7 + 2 + 1 + 8 + 9 + 3

(Answer: 30)


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Sophie Bartlett
Sophie Bartlett
Year 6 Teacher
Sophie is a grammar pedant, author and editor for Third Space as well as teaching in a small school in England.
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