What Is A Number Sentence? Explained For Elementary School Teachers, 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 key concept for elementary school math! We’ve also got a selection of number sentence questions you can use to test out children’s skills, so make sure you scroll to the bottom of the post!

What is a number sentence?

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

Examples of number sentences include:

32 + 57 = ? 

5 x 6 = 10 x ?

103 + ? = 350

They will usually be composed 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.

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Addition & Subtraction Worksheet

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When do children learn about number sentences?

From kindergarten, students will begin to read, write and interpret mathematical statements involving addition (+), subtraction (–) and equals (=) signs.

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

As students progress, they will calculate mathematical statements for multiplication and division within the multiplication tables and write them using the multiplication (×), division (÷) and equals (=) signs.

Once they have mastered this, students will write and calculate mathematical statements for multiplication and division using the multiplication tables that they know, including two-digit numbers times one-digit numbers, using mental and progressing to formal written methods. 

Students will continue to practice their mental recall of multiplication tables when they are calculating mathematical statements in order to improve fluency.

Number sentence examples for fourth grade

Students will 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).

Students will be 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 recognize 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].

Wondering about how to explain other key math vocabulary to your children? Check out our Math Dictionary For Kids, or try these other math terms:

Number sentence practice questions

1) Complete the following 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.

Number Sentence Question for elementary school children

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Why not learn more about how it works?

The content in this article was originally written by primary school teacher Sophie Bartlett and has since been revised and adapted for US schools by elementary math teacher Christi Kulesza.


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