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  • Writer's pictureLara

Games and Math Center Activities to Learn and Practice Decomposing Numbers

Updated: Nov 5, 2023

When teaching decomposing numbers, students need to see the connections with numbers but doing the same thing over and over can be a bore! I’ve created a round up of five low prep games to support your students in familiarizing themselves with different combinations of numbers and they won’t even realize they are working on the same skill! If you'd like to learn more about how to teach decomposing numbers or how to explain decomposing numbers you can check out this blog post or watch this demo lesson.


To the Games!


How Many More

This resource is perfect for supporting kindergarten and first grade students learning the number combinations of 3-10. To play, students spin a ten frame, write the number spun, and color in the same number of squares as the number spun with one color. Then with the other, color fill in the rest or and write the number to begin to become familiar with number combinations within 10. Get a sample of this game here!



Drop the Cubes


Your students will love Drop the Cubes getting to toss things without getting in trouble! Your students will be working with the same number the whole time. To play, students gently shake and drop the cubes, figure out how many fell inside the circle and outside the circle and continue until they finish their recording sheet. For example if they were playing with 5 and they have 5 cubes they drop, 3 fall outside and 2 fall inside. They would draw or write 3 outside the circle and 2 inside the circle and repeat. Once they have learned how to play, this station can become independent for them as they work their way though the numbers!


Shake and Spill/Toss the Chips



To play, students gently shake and spill their double sided counters, they will need the same number for their whole sheet. They will write how many were red and yellow and continue until they finish their recording sheet. You can have them get a new sheet for each number, or copy them all into one booklet they can use over several days.


Spin and Build: Dominoes



For this game, students will need two different colors of cubes or counters. They will spin and use one color of cube to build a tower that matches the number of dots on the domino on one side, and the other color for the other side, then put the two parts together to create a whole number. They continue into they have a tower for each number on the sheet.



Snap 5 or 10

This game is a fun high paced way for students to practice subitizing, number combinations and fluency of adding numbers to make 5 and 10. This game is best played when students have some familiarity with decomposing numbers to five and ten to be able to find number combinations quickly.


How to Play

  • Distribute cards evenly between the players

  • Take turns flipping over the cards, if a player sees two cards that when added together make 5 or 10, they must quickly cover the two cards and say “SNAP” and they take the pair. Ex. 2 and 8, 5 and 5 etc.

  • Continue taking turns flipping cards until there are no more cards or combinations.

  • The person with the most pairs wins!

  • Alternatively, players can have all cards face up and find pairs that way.

  • Note: cards that have been flipped stay facing up and you can use them to also make pairs with any future cards that are flipped, or by themselves.


Bonus Performance Task!



This task perfect for supporting kindergarten students to show their knowledge of composing and decomposing numbers 5-10 through story problems. Each word problem contains a number of items students can color for their first solution and an optional early finisher page that contains space for students to demonstrate their knowledge of multiple number combinations.

This performance task has the correct number of items for each question so students can focus on showing their knowledge of the concept of decomposing numbers instead of keeping track of how many items they should have. Each problem also contains a start page with no items to color so students would create their own representations first then use the early finisher page to show the other number combinations they may know or can solve.


I hope these stations help your students learn about composing and decomposing numbers and have a lot of fun with these stations! Don't forget to get your free sample here!


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