The Meadows

Primary School

‘Play Together, Learn Together, Achieve Together’


'Composition' is all about understanding that one number can be made up from (composed from) two or more smaller numbers.  Learning to ‘see’ a whole number and its parts at the same time is really important. Partitioning (splitting) numbers into other numbers and putting them back together again underpins understanding of addition and subtraction as inverse operations (opposite of each other).

This includes:

  • Part-whole - looking at what the whole thing is and what a part can look like.  You can model this without numbers initially, e.g. the tree is the whole, the leaves and branches are the parts; the house is the whole, the rooms, bricks, roof are the parts; the body is the whole, the eyes are a part etc.
  • Inverse operations - Children need opportunities to partition a number of things into two groups, and to recognise that those groups can be recombined to make the same total. Encourage children to say the whole number that the ‘parts’ make altogether.
  • Knowing that number can be partitioned into different pairs of numbers.
  • Knowing that number can be partitioned into more than two numbers.
  • Knowing and learning their number bonds - knowing which pairs of numbers make a given number.

Things you can do at home to develop this area:

  • Have 'number talks' when playing that allow them to discuss what they see e.g. a ladybird teddy with 5 spots - there are 5 spots altogether,  I can see 4 and 1 more.  Or explore what different numbers can look like e.g. 5 cars - there's 3 and 2, or there's 1 and 4 if we put them like this.  Encourage them to make different arrangements of a set of toys e.g. 4 teddies, dolls, trucks, animals etc.
  • exploring songs; for example, ‘Five Currant Buns’ – show that the whole is still five, but some are in the shop and some have been taken away; check throughout that there are still five currant buns
  • playing skittles and looking at how many are standing. How many have fallen over? How many are there altogether?
  • putting things into two containers in different ways
  • making a number with two different kinds of things. For example, make a fruit skewer with five pieces of fruit, using bowls of bananas/strawberries to choose from; then ask the children to describe how they have made theirs. They should compare it with a partner's: ‘What is the same about your skewers? What is different?’
  • Bunny Ears: using your fingers like bunny ears. 'With two hands, show me five fingers. Can you do it in a different way?' Or, 'Show five fingers altogether with a friend'
  • Spill the Beans: using double-sided counters or beans, where one side is coloured, throw the collection and note how many of each type can be seen and how many altogether
  • using six bean bags with different fabric on each side, throw the collection and note how many of each type can be seen.
  • Children need opportunities to say how many are hidden in a known number of things. For example: ‘Five toys go into a tent, then two come out. How many are left in the tent?’ The child should respond that there are still three toys in the tent.