Teaching Composing Numbers in FDK

My kids have been rocking math lately!

I am so impressed by their ability to use the language that I teach them.

We had a VP walk through our class a few weeks ago and she sat down with one of my students and asked her what she was doing.  She replied "Oh I'm decomposing numbers.  Decomposing is when you take a big number and break it apart into smaller numbers." Boom. She was surprised ("Did she just say the word decomposing!?") and we were so so proud.

Since most kids seem to have decomposing down pat, we started on composing numbers.

On the first day we started by reviewing what decomposing meant (breaking numbers apart to make smaller numbers) and then I told them we were going to learn how to compose numbers next and asked if anyone wanted to guess what composing meant.

One of my little JK boys raised his hand and said "I think composing means we are going to be putting numbers together" YES!!

So here is the learning goal and success criteria we came up with for our unit.

For our lesson, we started by using a five-frame like we did when we decomposed numbers.
We rolled a die with the numbers 0-5 on them, put that many counters on the five-frame and put a different type of counter to fill the rest.  Then we practiced completing the sentences.

The next day we practiced completing a sentence that was already partly filled in.

Here is an example.

I put these pre-filled 5 frame cards on the SMARTBoard and we practiced determining how many more to make five.

At centre time it was both a choice on the SMARTBoard and at a table.
At the table, student used counters (valentine themed erasers) and expo markers to fill and write the number on the line.

Here it is again on another day.
This little guy used snap cubes to fill the rest of the five frame.
We also used play dough on a different day!

On the third day we moved to composing to 10.
We did this whole group... 
(I used a 4-9 dice)

and the students got to practice this during centre time as well.

On the fourth day I introduced this spin & compose activity.
We did this on the SMARTBoard whole group first and then I put the laminated sheets below out as a centre for practice.  I made a spinner out of a brad and a paper clip.

And finally we did a word problem to apply our learning.
For this activity we first read the problem together, then the students were paired up and given 5 cupcake counters each.  They worked in pairs to solve the problem and the educators documented their thinking by taking videos of their conversations and explanations.

Then we came back together as a group and shared our solutions.

Here are some of the composing centres we had out:

And here is my updated math board in the hall!

If you are interested in any of these activities you can check out my unit on TpT by clicking the picture below:

And here is what I used as part of my summative assessment and for my math bulletin board!

You can download this sheet for free by clicking on the picture above.
Graphic credits: Melonheadz Illustrating & Kimberly Geswein Fonts

I got the idea for this name frame activity from Oceans of First Grade Fun!

And that's it for composing numbers for now!

We are back to measurement next as we review and refine measurement strategies for length and width :)


  1. Hello,

    I purchased your "Composing Numbers" from TpT but I do not see all of the activities as shown on your blog here in the resource I purchased.

    1. What are you missing? Did you look at all 3 files included?


  2. Ah it is in the older version. Got it thanks.