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What Is A Number Sentence: Explained For Primary Parents And Kids!

In this post, we will be answering the question “what is a number sentence?” and running through everything you need to know about this particular part of primary maths. We’ve also got number sentence questions and worksheets that you can use to test out your child’s skills.

What is a number sentence?

A number sentence is a combination of numbers and mathematical operations that children are often required to solve.

Example of a number sentences include:

32 + 57 = ?

5 x 6 = 10 x ?

103 + ? = 350

They will usually comprise of addition, subtraction, multiplication or division – or a combination of all four!

Remember – You may consider the above simply as “sums”, but referring to them as this can be confusing for children because the word “sum” should only be used when discussing addition.

KS1 Maths Games and Activities Pack

A FREE resource including 20 home learning maths activities and games for years 1 and 2 children to complete on their own or with a partner.

When will my child learn about number sentences?

In the English National Curriculum, number sentences are referred to as ‘mathematical statements’.

These math sentences or statements are introduced as a maths skill in Year 1, where pupils read, write and interpret mathematical statements involving mathematical symbols including addition (+), subtraction (–) and equals (=) signs.

Number sentences build on what children will have already learnt about number bonds.

Then, children will expand on this:

• Year 2 pupils calculate mathematical statements for multiplication and division within the multiplication tables and write them using the multiplication (×), division (÷) and equals sign (=).
• Year 3 pupils write and calculate mathematical statements for multiplication and division using the multiplication tables that they know, including for two-digit numbers times one-digit numbers, using mental and progressing to formal written methods. These pupils continue to practise their mental recall of multiplication tables when they are calculating mathematical statements in order to improve fluency.
• Year 4 pupils write statements about the equality of expressions (for example, use the distributive law 39 × 7 = 30 × 7 + 9 × 7 and associative law (2 × 3) × 4 = 2 × (3 × 4).
• Year 5 pupils are expected to understand the terms factor, multiple and prime, square and cube numbers and use them to construct equivalence statements (for example, 4 x 35 = 2 x 2 x 35; 3 x 270 = 3 x 3 x 9 x 10 = 81 x 10).
• They should also recognise mixed numbers and improper fractions and convert from one form to the other and write mathematical statements > 1 as a mixed number [for example, 2/5 + 4/5 = 6/5 = 1 and 1/5].
• Year 6 pupils continue to use all the multiplication tables to calculate mathematical statements in order to maintain their fluency.

So, for example, in Year 1 your child will begin with addition sentences and subtraction number sentences. A number line may be helpful at this stage. In Year 2 they will use division sentences using whole numbers. By Year 4, they will use decimals in their number sentences.

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

Number sentence practice questions

1) Complete the number sentences.

340 ÷ 7 = ____  remainder ____

____÷ 3 = 295 remainder 2

2) Here is a number sentence.

____ + 27 > 85

Circle all the numbers below that make the number sentence correct.

30           40           50           60           70

3) Write in the missing number.

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Every week Third Space Learning’s maths specialist tutors support thousands of primary school children with weekly online 1-to-1 lessons and maths interventions. Since 2013 we’ve helped over 150,000 children become more confident, able mathematicians. Learn more or request a personalised quote to speak to us about your needs and how we can help.

Primary school tuition targeted to the needs of each child and closely following the National Curriculum.

Ellie Williams
Third Space Learning
Content Team
With a love for all things KS2 maths, Ellie is a part of the content team that helps all of the Third Space Learning blogs and resources reach teachers!

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KS1 Maths Games and Activities Pack

A FREE resource including 20 home learning maths activities and games for years 1 and 2 children to complete on their own or with a partner.

KS1 Maths Games and Activities Pack

A FREE resource including 20 home learning maths activities and games for years 1 and 2 children to complete on their own or with a partner.

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