Math Madness Wednesdays: Decomposing Numbers

Wow! What a week. To say it has been a week from you know where would be an understatement! We all have them….you know, the ones where EVERYTHING bad that is going to happens all happens at once?! I have been sick, we have had no heat, my autistic son has a science fair project to finish, I spill water on my laptop and the keyboard no longer works, My father-in-law is out of town so they need me to come in to the office and do some of his work for him (family-run business), I come home to a septic tank back-up that has flooded our bathroom, etc., etc., etc. To be honest, I am really enjoying taking a moment to get away from it get back to my blogging! It gets me away from everything else, at least for the moment!

So, here we go! This week’s Math Madness Wednesday topic is Decomposing numbers. What does that mean? Basically, it means taking numbers apart. This can be as simple as decomposing simple addition problems (5 + 3 = 8) or as intermediate as decomposing fractions (1/8 + 1/8 + 1/8 = 3/8). Decomposing is important to teach because truly understanding what numbers mean and what they stand for will lead to a deeper understanding of future math concepts.

So, what does decomposing look like in the classroom? Many teachers start with number bonds.

Others work with number families, fact families, ways to get to (some number), etc.  What ever you call it, we all have taught it!  One of my favorite books to read while teaching decomposing numbers is 12 Ways to Get to 11 by Eve Merriam.
 I usually hand out some manipulatives in two colors I have used red/yellow counters, various colors of snap cubes, coins, and even different types of beans.  As we read the story (usually on my document camera so they can use the manipulatives at their seats, but still get a chance to see the illustrations), we act out each page using our manipulatives.  For example, on one of the pages, it shows one way to get to 11 is by picking up 9 pinecones and 2 acorns from the forest.  So, I would say, “Let’s pretend that the red counters are the pinecones and the yellow counters are acorns.  Count out 9 red counters and 2 yellow counters.  How many things did we find in the forest?”  I would keep track of the different ways on a poster that we can keep in the class afterwards.  
I know there are SOOO many ways to teach this and I can’t wait to hear about how you teach it in your classroom!  
*Note to fellow teacher bloggers: If you’d like to link up your post with a helpful math tip or trick, THANK YOU!
Please make sure to add the Math Madness Monday button, found here, at the beginning of your post to help show that our posts are all linked.  Please also name your post Math Madness Wednesdays:  Decomposing Numbers 

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