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Solving for Missing Numbers

An amazing, hands-on, visual tool that helps children solve problems with unknown numbers!

Did you know that your learner is expected to solve problems like __ + 4 = 10 by the end of first grade?!? If it looks a lot like algebra...that's because it is!

Everything children learn in elementary builds onto what they are expected to know by the end of high school.

Skill Level

Level 1


  • number bond template

  • sheet protectors

  • dry erase markers

  • flash card with missing numbers in places other than the final position


  1. Say "I'm going to show you a (addition or subtraction) sentence and there is a number missing in an unusual spot." Ask the child to point to the space where the missing number should be in the equation.

  2. Say "Now we are going to use a number bond to help use determine what the missing number is and how we should solve for it."

  3. Explain the parts of the number bond by saying "These two bubbles (or boxes) next to each other are where we write the addends, we call them the part boxes. This big bubble (or box) that's by itself is where we write our sum, we call it the whole number box.

  4. After explaining to the child say "Let's write each number in our number sentence where it belongs in our number bond, we will leave the box for the missing number blank."

  5. Write the numbers in the boxes. Once you are finish ask the child which box the number is missing from. Help them with using the correct terminology.

  6. "Great job the number is missing from the (insert which box) box! Now we can use our favorite strategy to find out what out missing number is."

  • If the number is missing from one of the part boxes say "Let's put the number is the other part box in our head and we are going to count up on our fingers until we get to the number in the whole number box. The amount of finger we have up will be our answer."

  • If the number is missing from the whole number box say "Let's put the two parts together by adding and the number we get will be our answer."

Once the child has written the answer in the number bond, have them write the equation again into a complete number sentence.

Liked the template used in the video? It's only $2 in the shop!

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