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Ready to be Santa’s Helper? (Free Decomposing Numbers Activity)

Want to help your little ones develop an understanding of place value? This decomposing numbers activity is a fun, Christmas themed center that will help.


Do you do Santa with your children? There tends to be a lot of facebook posts going around lately about why you should or should not do it. We have chosen to let our children know that Santa is a fictional character just like Batman or their favorite Paw Patrol character. But just as our kiddos love anything Batman, Paw Patrol, or Lion, Witch and Wardrobe related, they love Santa.

With that love in mind, today I’m allowing my kindergartner to be Santa’s helper. Santa needs to have boxes packed with toys so that there will be a few Christmas presents under the tree before he arrives.

Each box only holds 10 toys, so my little kindergartner will be decomposing numbers to pack the boxes correctly.

What are we doing when we are decomposing numbers?

Leslie from Kindergarten Works says, “Decomposing numbers means to break down numbers into their sub-parts.” What does that mean? It is simply helping children recognize that 13 is 1 ten and 3 ones. 10 +3 = 13

10 +3 = 13

When teaching decomposing it is important for children to recognize two aspects of it.

  1. Have children use pictures, words, ten frames, blocks, or anything else to show the place values of each digit.
  2. Have children be able to create an expression to show that place value.

And that is exactly what this activity get our kiddos doing.

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Helping Santa and Decomposing Numbers

Prep Work

  1. Print off all pages on card stock paper
  2. Cut out the task cards and toys.
  3. Laminate page 3 and provide children with a dry erase marker

Completing the Tasks

  1. Students will pick up a task card.
  2. Next, they will find the toy needed and count out the required amount. (One to One correspondence)
  3. Now they get to fill the boxes, ten frames, on the laminated page.
  4. Next to each box, the students write how many toys are in each box.
  5. Finally, the children create an equation based on the filled in 10 frames.

Decomposing numbers will help children learn place value skills. These skills are essential for understanding basic operations they will encounter in the coming years. So let you little ones be Santa’s helpers and practice decomposing.


Get another decomposing activity at my Teacher Pay Teacher Store.


Or get these plus more adding and subtracting activities for Kindergarten students here.

Ready to be Santa's Helper? (Free Decomposing Numbers Activity)

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