Decomposing (breaking down) and composing (making) numbers is a multiple part Common Core standard that we work on in Kindergarten. I started out my own exploration with this concept when I shared “why does 10+6=16?,“ and today I want to give you my tips on ways to work on it during your normal class day. Why is this standard important?
Read the last post in this series, Decomposing and Composing Numbers- Part 1.
Now, I know that we often call this “place value” as teachers, but really it is number sense because they truly have to understand what these numbers are in quantity, number form, numeral and in comparison to their surrounding numbers (like where they fall on the one hundreds chart for example). It’s all intertwined. No matter what number or skill you’re working on – it can be connected to it’s value in tens and ones.
Tips for Working on Decomposing and Composing Numbers in Kindergarten
Here are my top ways of integrating decomposing and composing teen numbers 11-19 into your day (and higher numbers):
Use the repetition that comes during a calendar activity to see it and hear it often. Track the days in school as an example of how to modify a classic calendar activity and then use it to either compose or decompose numbers. You can also use it to figure out how to make 5 and 10.
My students are also working on a variety of composing and decomposing workmats since I change these out every couple of months. They get different kinds of practice that all has a purpose since it comes from the numbers we use in the calendar and they aren’t stuck thinking that we can only make or break numbers in one specific way. Below you see that for a time we were decomposing with words and composing by circling the correct groups of ten and creating the set of ones. Same skill, different format.
Finding games to play in small groups, pairs or independently for math centers, stations or zones is crucial. Students often do some of their best work when given the most amount of time to practice. Playing games is one of the best ways to increase the amount of time they are practicing a skill. Below you can see that we’ve got our Hurry Up Reindeer Composition (now Christmas themed) game up and ready to be played. Students feed the reindeer glitter ice cubes using tens and ones.
This game is one of my favorites. Playing memory when it is skill specific is a great eye opener. My students work on first finding matches of tens and ones to just the number and are now ready for matching the decomposition equation to the number.
And playing games whenever you can integrate them into your day (computer lab, centers, etc.) is a sure fire way to give them additional practice as long as you can find a skills specific activity like this one below.
3. Small Group Activities
By far one of my favorite ways to practice since you can work through misconceptions and give students more guided attention. (For example if someone needs practice starting at not 1 when counting, and needs to start at 10.) Here is an example of when we were learning to create and represent the number in a decomposing statement with words using 10 frame manipulatives.
When working in small groups, I also try to fit in a warm up or wrap up activity where we get to explore the concept in a different way, like playing I SPY for numbers. As seen below, students find the hidden numbers and then write the decomposed tens and ones equation to match and highlight the number on the hundreds chart.
4. Opportunities to Draw
Students need opportunities to draw out numbers using ten frames and a variety of objects. So give them time to draw in a math journal or during calendar time to express what these numbers look like.
5. Making, Representing and Using Equations
This one seems obvious and it is. Using a variety of tools, let students make equations, draw them out, represent them with objects and also use given equations in order to build their skills is important.
This picture from Mrs. Parker is a great example using our booklet for students to practice using words to make and break teen numbers.
And this is my newest math group recording activity that I am working on with my groups so that they can take the same skill they already have and express it using equations. No matter what range of numbers they have in their comfort zone, they can apply this skill of writing equations with tens and ones.
So there you have it. I find it extremely helpful to incorporate it into calendar time, games, small group work and individual drawing opportunities in addition to finding ways for students to practice making, representing and using equations to show their thinking.
- Previous Step: Understanding Composing and Composing Part 1
- Next Up: Extending this Standard for Accelerated Students Part 3
I hope these top tips of mine can help you find ways to incorporate this standard into what you are already doing in your day, just in a variety of ways.
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