Number bracelets provide concrete practice for number combinations and composing/decomposing numbers. They should be used in small group instruction and workstations by having students work on their own target numbers.
Tips for making your own number bracelets:
- You need chenille stems, pony beads, and mailing labels (for the tags). Put the mailing label over the twisted end of the bracelet so younger students don’t get poked.
- Kindergarten makes #3-10, then continue up once they master that.
- First grade makes #4-18
- Second grade makes #5 (or 6) to 20
- Use a single color for number up to 10. Different bracelets can be different colors, but the colors on one bracelet should be the same with bracelets up to 10.
- For numbers above 10, it’s best to keep 10 beads the same color. For example, #11 would be 10 of one color and 1 of a different color, #12 would be 10 of one color and 2 of a different color, etc.
Possible uses for number bracelets:
- Play a guessing game. The teacher gives clues and has students find the correct number bracelet. For example, “I’m looking for a bracelet. It’s more than 5 and less than 8. It’s an even number. Which bracelet is it?”
“I’m looking for a bracelet. It’s the difference of 9 and 2. Which bracelet is it?”
Extension: Have students write their own clues and work with a partner.
- Teach the “Bridging 10” strategy with the bracelets. As children add two
numbers (for example 8+5) show them how part of the 5 helps the 8 make a 10,
with 3 leftover.
- While you are reading a math counting book such as, 10 Flashing Fireflies by Philemon Sturges or Quack and Count by Keith Baker, students can actively follow along and manipulate their corresponding bracelets.
- Give students a specific number bracelet and ask them to find different combinations. For example, how many combinations can you find for the # 3?
- Students can work with a partner to practice missing addends (a tricky skill). One partner hides some of the beads, and the other partner has to determine how many are hidden based on the beads showing.
There are so many neat ways to use number bracelets and they are a fun learning tool.
If you have another great way to use them, please leave a comment to share your ideas!