## Grouping Numbers in a Sum

When you are given long sums it can be hard to figure out where to start.  This has always been something in our house.  My daughter just does the sum the way it is written, which is sometimes the hardest order.  We have shown her ways to make it easier, like grouping numbers together to get 10, finding doubles, adding the smallest together first and she gets all of that but when faced with a long list of numbers all added together she often just forgets and starts at the beginning and just works through in the order it is written.  And yes there is nothing wrong with this, you get the same answer but reorganising the numbers and reworking the sum is quicker and easier and as she gets older and the sums get harder it is going to become more and more helpful.

Recently I was doing Maths with my youngest, we had some foam dice and he was throwing the dice and creating his own sums.  We started with just adding two numbers together and then went onto adding three and four numbers together.  And I noticed he was naturally finding the basic patterns and grouping them together (finding numbers that add to 10 or double).  The foam dice that he was using had dots on them representing the numbers.

Once he had  finished I called my daughter over and we started throwing the dice and creating the sums.  I left her to do the first few by herself and then I noticed she naturally started grouping any doubles together.

So we started an activity.  Every time she threw the dice we created groups, doubles, numbers that add to 10, that type of thing.

We also sometimes redid the same sum because when you are adding 6 different numbers together there are often more than one way to group the numbers.

Using the dice to practice really seemed to help.  It was fun and she was creating the sums and  she has regrouping the numbers by picking objects up (the dice) and moving them.

It was a great way of getting her to totally “re-see” a few sums eg

2+6+4+6 +3 = (2+4)+6+6 +3 = 6 +6 +6+3 = (6×3) + 3

And I have already seen her starting to apply this to her  written sums that she works on.

Now that she has a good visual image of what she needs to do (the dice with the dots) and now that she has been in control of what needs to happen (actually physically picking up the dice and regrouping them) doing the same with a written series of numbers is coming much easier for her.

For those of you based in the UK we bought our faom dice from the Tiger Store.