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QUACK Shake and Spill! Composing and Decomposing Numbers

Being able to easily compose and decompose numbers is a crucial component of number sense. Kids need lots of practice composing and decomposing numbers to 10 in Kindergarten and 1st grade.  In 2nd grade, they should be working with 2-digit numbers.  You honestly just can’t get enough of this type of practice.  So, the challenge becomes keeping it fresh and engaging.  I remember my 1st-grade teachers telling me one day “Under a Rock has got to go!”

This post contains affiliate links, which simply means that when you use my link and purchase a product, I receive a small commission. There is no additional cost to you, and I only link to books and products that I personally use and recommend.

Shake and Spill is a great game because it is easy to make different versions (almost any graphic will do), it’s easy to differentiate (the target number can be 5, 25, or whatever you want to make it), and it’s fun to play!

Basically, you choose a target number; let’s say 5, for example. Players put 5 counters in a cup, they shake it, and they spill the counters onto the mat. Then they describe how many fell on the picture and how many fell off. They continue this process trying to find all the combinations for the target number. Here’s a tip.  Put the Shake and Spill Mat inside something. I like to use my workstation box like I’ve shown in the picture. It keeps the “spillage” contained!  BTW, that’s my favorite type of box for work stations. I love that it can hold a full letter-size piece of paper, and it has a snap-on lid so you can stack the boxes.

What about CRA? The game itself is concrete learning, because students are manipulating objects. The printables I’ve included extend the activity to the representational (drawing) and abstract (symbolic) stages. Of course, that would be a gradual process!

Grab your free copy of Quack Attack!

Want a whole year of Shake and Spill boards?

Holiday Shirts Shake and Spill 3

Incorporate graphing for even more powerful learning!

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  1. Donna,

    I’m always amazed at all your ideas for engaging children in math activities that appropriately target the skills they need. I work with first graders and will definitely use this. Thank you for the free download.

    First Grade Schoolhouse

  2. Love this site! I teach 4th grade for the 2nd year (after a 4 year break in 5th grade) it is nice to find material I can use for centers and just to hit those gaps! You rock!

    1. Thank you so much! Unfortunately, many of our intermediate kiddos didn’t get this kind of learning. You’re right about needing to fill in the gaps.

  3. Hey, friends! I was not expecting TpT to be down all day! I’m sorry you can’t get to the activity. Please check back do you can download it.


  4. I will definitely be checking back so I can download it. We do a lot of work on composing and decomposing numbers in my classroom. This is a great way to add variety to Shake and Spill the Beans! Thanks so much for the freebie!

    1. Hey, Corinna. The site FINALLY came back up! I hope you grabbed it. So glad to hear that composing and decomposing is a focus in your classroom. 🙂

  5. I love your ideas, I know that my kindergarten team always has a hard time trying to figure out exactly what they want when they say decomposing numbers and I think, I know that these activities will help them have a better understanding!

    1. Glad this helps! Use the search box on my blog and search for “compose” or “decompose”. You’ll find lots of stuff!

  6. Thank you for sharing this. I know this activity will help my students. I love your Math Coaches Corner blog & have been able to implement many of your great ideas/suggestions.

    1. Awesome!! I hope there are sound effects to go with it (quack!). I mean, seriously, how could you look at that duck and not let out a good QUACK? 🙂

  7. Thank you so much! I was really tired of Counters in a Cup. Who could resist a Quack Attack? And why didn’t I think to put it in a box?

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