Where Do You See 5?

Students need to use concrete models, visual representations and numbers in conjunction to learn more deeply. But the REALLY deep learning comes when they can see patterns and connections.

In this case I had first grade student build the number 8 as many ways as he could. At the end I asked if he could see anything that was the same in all of the ways he made. Sure enough, he said “I see eight!”

I took a moment to regroup my head…clearly there was a five and three in all of these eights! I asked again, “Where do you see 5?” 

That’s when the lightbulb clicked on…and he shouted “Hey! They are all five and three!”

Helping students decompose numbers at an early age allows them to become very flexible thinkers. Everyone wins!



  1. Hello! I absolutely love this idea of getting students thinking about different ways to represent a number. Creating a poster such as the one you provided on this blog will help students visualize different ways they can work with different numbers and digits. When students begin taking numbers and using them in fractions, and manipulating them into multiplication and division problems they will find this activity useful because it make them view number in a more flexible way. Being able to show multiple ways to represent a number is useful because in the future when they are problem solving they might need to try different methods in order to solve a problem. Thanks so much for posting this activity! -Megan



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s