Kindergarten, Number Bonds & Desmos

Recently, I had the pleasure of teaching a kindergarten class for the very first time! My colleague, CeCe, invited me to teach a lesson on number bonds using my Desmos Number Bond Activity 

The Lesson

The Kinders sat on the rug.  Cece projected the activity from her computer onto her whiteboard.  To start, I stood by the whiteboard and, with Cece’s assistance, ran a mini-lesson.  But anyone who has taught kindergarten before understands, it didn’t take me long before I was sitting or kneeling on the ground.  I spent the mini-lesson “toggling” between standing to address the whole group and sitting/kneeling to listen and ask follow up questions.

Screen Shot 2018-03-26 at 4.05.33 PM


  • Me:  What do you notice?
  • Students:
    • I see numbers
    • I see dots
  • Me:  What color are the dots?  Talk to your neighbor.
    • Students: Red, purple, green blue.
  • Me:  What’s the difference between the dots?  Turn to your neighbor and talk about the difference.
    • Students:  Some are big.  some are small.
  • Me:  What else do you notice?
    • Students:
      • I see, no.
      • I see, yes
      • And a number bond
  • Me:  Let’s talk about all the items you mentioned ….

This simple opener highlighted all the parts of the slide that I needed to discuss prior to using the computer.  We then spent a solid 15-20 minutes discussing

  • The vocabulary of a number bond: whole & part
  • The purpose of the small and big dots
  • The value of the whole (for this example)
  • How to move the purple slider to fill in the whole value
  • How to check an answer by moving the green slider from No to Yes
  • The different messages that could pop up
  • How to change an answer when a mistake is made (move the green slider back to No, change answer, then check)

And when I say discussing, I mean there was a lot of

  • Pair-share
    • I listened to their conversations and then based my questions on what was mentioned. Depending on what I heard, I asked followed up questions with 1 student, a small group or the whole group.
  • I say, you say
  • I ask, everyone answers
Number bond: 1 and 3 make 4

A smiley emoji pops up when the whole is correct.

Number bond: 1 and 3 do not make 5

A sad emoji pops up when the whole is incorrect.


Computer Time

Students were organized in pairs and used QR codes to access

Screen Shot 2018-03-26 at 1.05.34 PM  Capture

As the students worked through the problems, CeCe (pictured above) and I circulated the room and checked in with each pair. We asked students to explain their thinking and to read the messages that popped up.

A week later, I had the opportunity to run the same lesson with Ana and her students.




I’d like to thank CeCe and Ana for inviting me into their classrooms.  Through our collaboration,

  • Students enjoyed an engaging math activity
  • Students talked A LOT about adding numbers
  • Students were introduced to new technology
  • The activity was refined
  • With your tutelage, I gained new insights into teaching primary grades

About jgvadnais

Instructional Technology Coach. Desmos Fellow. Google Level 1 Certified. SoCal transplant. New Englander at heart. Lover of yoga, dogs, green smoothies and coffee creamer
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