Five minute fun activities for busy people to do with little kids

Games + Activities


If you have a kid in reception (first year at school) like me you might have heard this phrase. A bit like PHONICS it’s another “WTF is that?” thing. You furrow your brow and try to remember if this was something we did at school? Fractions? Multiplication? Yep sounds familiar, but BONDS. What IS THIS?

Sometimes they are called Number Pairs just to throw you off too. HA! Isn’t being a parent of school ages kids FUN? It’s bring a box day today!...have you been to the school coffee morning? forgot an assembly where your kid had three words to say and NOW YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT NUMBER BONDS ARE!!! Pick your way through that weekly minefield (without shouting THAT’S NUMBERWANG at the top of your voice 😉)

Well don’t worry. Here is what they are and some games to play at home to help your kid (and you!) learn them. And they might be older but still always apply THE GOLDEN RULE! 😊

Number bonds/pairs are two numbers that always go together to make a target number. So for example, number bonds to 10 are as follows…

  • 1 and 9, 9 and 1
  • 2 and 8, 8 and 2
  • 3 and 7, 7 and 3
  • 4 and 6, 6 and 4
  • 5 and 5
  • 10 and 0, 0 and 10

They all make 10. 6 pairs of numbers the little nose miners need to learn.

Oh right. Well that’s easy innit? Now you can do bonds to 5 or bonds to 20. Learning these is a great way to support your child’s mental arithmetic and understanding of patterns and how numbers work. Some kids get these pairs quite easily and can grasp it. Other really struggle and it can take them seeing it shown in lots of different ways for them to really get to grips with it. So don’t panic, here’s a few ideas.

Puzzle Boards

If you have one of these wooden puzzle boards, try to keep hold of it. Tempting as it is to throw out baby toys once they’ve grown out of them open ended toys like this with numbers and letters on will come in handy for a lot longer than you might imagine. All I have done here is cut out bits of paper with numbers 1-10 on and popped them under the number bond on the puzzle board - so 1 is under 9 etc. Ewan has to work out what is under there before he can lift it. Or alternatively tip them all out and work out himself which one goes under which.


Get out duplo or lego bricks Make towers of 1, 9, 2, 8, 3, 7, 4, and 6, two towers of 5 and one tower of 10. Pop the 10 on the table and say they have to work out how to make 5 more towers of ten without breaking up the towers. If you like add a bit of paper where they can write out the sum for the number bond once they’ve found it. Once they’ve made all the towers see if they can all go on top of each other to make the BIGGEST TOWER EVER.

Suck it Up

Write the numbers all out on bits of paper. Make sure there are two 5’s and a 10 and a 0 too. Pop them in a bowl and get a straw. They have to suck the number out of the bowl using the straw. Once they’ve got one they pop it down and dig into the bowl again to see if they can find its matching pair.

Make Hands

Draw around their own hands on a bit of paper. Let them cut them out. Only stick the wrists and palms to another bit of paper. Fold the fingers down and write numbers 1-10 on the reverse of the finger tips. Show them how to use the fingers going up and down to see the matching pairs.


Now with Ewan I played a combination game for these. We sucked the numbers out of a bowl, and then he had to find the matching Duplo tower to make 10. So you can play it any way you like - perhaps using your hands as a support tool.

Make the Tea

If you have a little one who loves tea making, play my cafe game and number the cups. They have to put the number of sugars in to make each cup up to 10. So your cups could be 1-4 and they need to add, 9, 8, 7 and 6 sugars to the correct cups. You don’t need a tea set, just any of your cups from home with a post it on and a little bowl of flour, container of water and a spoon.

So I hope that is helpful and gives you a bit of inspiration to play with number bonds or pairs at home. It’s really very simple once you know, as is all this stuff! If you are really keen to support your child at home something called Numicon is an excellent maths and numeracy tool. It can be expensive but check eBay and second hand selling sites for some bargain sets. There is a great explanation for why they are so helpful HERE.

Obviously Flo (aged almost three) was playing with us and doing the same games but just using it for straightforward number recognition. I set up her own version too so she could play alongside.

14 November 2023

Christmas Refuge Appeal 2023

It's BACK for 2023 - The easiest way ever to support families who are fleeing domestic abuse…

Read More

20 April 2023

My first book for the KIDS! Starting School - out June 2023

A little intro to my first ever children's book written to help kids with preparing to start…

Read More

23 March 2022

Third Book - On The Go - finally published!

The third book, On The Go, filled with games, activities and tips for being out and about with…

Read More