Number Bonds Homework Year 3 Curriculum

What are number bonds?

Number bonds are also often referred to as 'number pairs'. They are simply the pairs of numbers that make up a given number.

Number bonds to 10

1 + 9, 2 + 8, 3 + 7, 4 + 6, 5 + 5

Number bonds to 20

1 + 19, 2 + 18, 3 + 17, 4 + 16, 5 + 15

Number bonds in Reception

Children start to learn about number bonds in the Foundation stage, when they might be given a number, such as 5, and then asked to select two groups of objects that will add up to that number.

Number bonds in Year 1

Children are expected to know number bonds to 10 and number bonds to 20. 

Number bonds in Year 2

Children by now need to be very confident with their number bonds to 20. They need to be able to work out number bonds to 100. They also need to be confident with the corresponding subtraction facts (for example: 20 - 13 = 7).

Number bonds in Key Stage 2

In Key Stage 2, children move onto being able to work out number bonds to 1000 (e.g. 450 and 550) and number bonds to 1 (e.g. 0.8 and 0.2).

How are number bonds taught in primary school?

Teachers teach number bonds in a variety of ways. When learning number bonds to 5 or 10 in Key Stage 1 it is always good to use pictorial representation, so a teacher might show rows of blocks shaded like this to make the concept clear:

It is also a good idea to show children the connection between number bonds to ten, twenty and one hundred, for example:

How to practise number bonds at home

  • Give your child ten counters (Lego bricks, past shapes, buttons, sweets) and ask them questions such as: What do you add to 3 to make 10? What do you add to 2 to make 10? Encourage them to use the counters to work it out.
  • Print out number cards and ask your child to match them up into number pairs or number bonds (this can be done as a game of Snap). 
  • Write a list of ten numbers then time your child to see how long it takes them to write down the other number that makes up each pair (2 and 18; 5 and 15; 4 and 16). 

Knowledge of number bonds is essential when it comes to harder calculations involving addition and subtraction (for example, children learn to use the bridging through 10 method to help them add numbers mentally), so it is vital children get a firm grounding in this from Years 1 to 3.

Teaching activities


  1. Show the following Number bonds to 5 song, singing and learning the song.
  2. Remind the children of previous work on number bonds.
  3. Revise number bonds to 10 by giving the children a number card between 0 and 10.
  4. Play some music and ask the children to move around the classroom trying to find their partner to 10. By the time the music stops they should be standing with their partner. If there is an odd number of children the teacher will also need a card.
  5. Use the known facts on bonds to 10 to practise bonds to 20.
  6. Discuss speedy mental methods to find bonds of bigger numbers.
  7. Explain to the children that knowing bonds to 10 and 20 can help with bonds to 30 and 40. Show that it is the number of tens that change (e.g. 6 + 4 = 10, 16 + 4 = 20, 16 + 14 = 30, 26 + 14 = 40).
  8. Ask the children to get into pairs and quickly find a bond to 10, 20, 30 and 40 on their whiteboards or jotters, keeping the original bond to 10 the same. They can discuss the task with their partner.


Lower ability - Place the 0 to 20 number cards in a rice or sand tray. Ask the children to pick a card out of the tray and find its corresponding number bond to 20. They can use counters to help them. Play the Crossing the Swamp game (addition).

Middle ability - Play the Bitesize addition game in groups. Start by showing the children how to repair the slide by using bonds to 20.

Higher ability - Draw a 'number bond machine' on the board. Write 100 in the middle of the machine. On the left, write a 2-digit number that is going into the machine. On the right, leave a space for the answer. Invite the children to come up and write the machine's answer on the board. How did they work out the bond to 100 using their knowledge of bonds to 10? Repeat the activity, finding different number bonds to 100.


Play the Bitesize addition game again but this time let the different groups demonstrate and explain how they calculated the bonds and then show how they repaired the slide. Did other groups calculate their bonds in a different way?


Ask the children to work through the Bitesize addition quiz or complete the Balancing Penguins worksheet.


Ask the children to investigate the different ways of making 100 using 2 digits. Can they write them out in numerical order (eg 1 + 99 = 100, 2 + 98 = 100, 3 + 97 = 100, and so on)?

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