Making a Number Family Box

Math is like a box of chocolates…at least it is when young children begin to learn addition and subtraction and need a way to sort tangible items.

All you need to make this Math Box is the Number Family Template, several small items and a chocolate box (as if you need an excuse to buy chocolates) or a similar box.

Take the bottom removable part and cut it in half. Take one of the halves and cut it in half. Turn the parts around so that the edges are in the middle, forming one large and two small compartments.

Tape these all in place and then cut out squares of red and blue paper to go in the two small compartments, and a rectangle of purple paper to go in the larger compartment.

Stage 1:

Start by offering your child 5 small objects (rocks, toy dinosaurs, acorns, beads, etc.). Let your child choose how many should go in the red and blue compartments. Help your child to count the objects as they are all added to the purple compartment. Say the number sentence out loud. “Look at that! Two and three makes five! So cool!”

Stage 2:

Print out the addition only page of the Number Family template and place inside a plastic sleeve.

With a dry-erase marker, have your child write the number in the blue box in the blue squares and the number in the red box in the red squares. After counting all the numbers together, your child can write the number from the purple box in the purple squares. Guide your child to read the number sentences with you, (“3 plus 2 equals 5. 2 plus 3 equals 5”).

Stage 3:

Print the addition and subtraction page of the Number Family Template and place it in the plastic sleeve.

Have your child fill in all the squares, and go backwards after reading the sentences to make the subtraction problems.

Stage 4:

Give your child addition (and later subtraction) flash cards to recreate a given number sentence using the objects in the compartments. Be sure to point out that the numbers belong to a number family, and the numbers in one math sentence of a number family will always be found in another order in a different sentence for the same number family.

Inside the box keep:

  • the plastic sleeve with the number families template on one side and a hundreds chart on the other side
  • small objects
  • flash cards
  • dry-erase marker