Primary Tile Questions

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Number sense is on display in Primary Tile Questions as students seek a wide variety of ways to add numbers and display their thinking.  You may find the connection between area and the value of the shapes to be intriguing.  You’ll also find 3 PowerPoint lessons which you can download along with 3 PDFs which will be very useful.  The previous post – Tiled Area Questions – focused on adding fractions.  In this post, whole numbers are on display.  Enjoy Primary Tile Questions!  Watch the video and download the lessons and the resources.


Download the 3 PowerPoint files and the PDF sets here.


PowerPoint  –   Primary Tile Questions Set 1

PowerPoint  –   Primary Tile Questions Set 2

PowerPoint  –   Primary Tile Questions Set 3



PDF  –  Primary Tile Questions Set 1

PDF  –  Primary Tile Questions Set 2

PDF  –  Primary Tile Questions Set 3



You may also want to visit the previous post – Tiled Area Questions – to a similar concept that focuses on fractions.


***NEW*** The latest post in the series is ready:  3 Powerful Tile Strategies (and 40 New Downloadable Pages)


You may also enjoy:

Splat!  This post includes 50 (fifty!) animated number sense lessons for K-12 teachers.
The Power of Color
5 × 9 is More Than 45
Experiencing Subitizing
The Maze Hundreds Chart
The Animated Multiplication Table


After reading this blog post, take a look at  THE 12 MOST POPULAR MATH STRATEGIES AND DOWNLOADS ON THIS BLOG.


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  1. Debbie Carlson on October 25, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    I used the PPT Lesson 1 today with my math intervention groups in grades 2 – 5. I liked the numbers you chose for the primary lesson 1. We were able to look for friendly numbers and add quickly. The fifth graders got to talk about multiplication, area, and perimeter. This was so much fun and the students were excited about their discoveries! Thank you for sharing your work.

    • on October 26, 2018 at 6:39 am

      Thanks, Debbie! It’s great to hear about all of the wonderful things happening with your students! I really appreciate the comment.

  2. Kathryn on October 4, 2018 at 8:14 pm

    My students always amaze me with their math talk when we use your lessons. Thank you for taking the time to create these incredible lessons. Your work has played a big role in showing my students that math is creative and FUN!

    • on October 9, 2018 at 6:40 am

      Thanks, Kathryn. It’s very rewarding to hear that your students are discovering the creativity and fun within math!

  3. Lucy Tile on August 3, 2017 at 3:58 am

    I watched your instructional video. And i really loved it. Keep posting this type of blogs !!

    • on August 4, 2017 at 8:51 am

      Thank you for the comment, Lucy. I appreciate the encouragement! Absolutely, I’ll keep adding posts!

  4. Tina Patterson on May 23, 2017 at 11:42 am

    Hi! I’m a kindergarten teacher and love the way your lessons teach multiple concepts. I would like to have tile manipulatives to have on hand for some lessons and play based learning – do you know if they exist and where we could purchase them?

    • on May 27, 2017 at 8:32 am

      Hi, Tina. I don’t know of any tiles that would mirror the images within the primary tiles blog post. However, a resource that may work well for this purpose – and for many other purposes as well – would be simple square color tiles. I know if you enter “square color tiles” on Amazon or elsewhere you will see several options. By using matching colors to represent parts of shapes, and then other colors for different parts of the shape, you could have some very nice options for adding manipulatives to this process. These tiles are also really good for many other purposes as well, and I think that they would be nice to have in general in a kindergarten classroom.

  5. Debi on May 10, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    I am so excited to discover your blog. I am an Instructional Specialist supporting mathematics for our district. I have been looking for ways for students to practice fluency other than flashcards or timed tests. Tile Questions, Subatizing, and Notice are items I want to share immediately.
    Thank you for making your lessons available to all.

  6. Ramona Priester on March 1, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    Thanks for sharing your resources! I can’t imagine the hours involved in creating them. I’ve been sharing Primary Math Tiles with my elementary teachers. I noticed some students actually drew the grid lines on the pdf’s I gave them (e.g., partitioned the blue square into 4 smaller squares) and then found different ways to group the numbers to find the total. What do you think of this?

    • on March 1, 2017 at 5:07 pm

      Thanks, Ramona. Yes, quite a few hours, but I love sharing resources! I think that partitioning into smaller squares is a great strategy. However, I wouldn’t want to see a student use that strategy repeatedly and exclusively. It may be that it’s a good sense-making strategy that will open up some others. As I read on in your comment, I was really pleased to hear that the students are already looking for ways to combine the smaller squares usefully. I think that decomposing and recomposing in a different way (or in many different ways) is a really good way to develop number sense. You may ask them to decompose and compose without making each of the into smaller squares and see where they take it. Sometimes the students will also mentally move the squares around the page – visualizing more useful configurations. This can be a powerful strategy, and some times it is easiest for students to initially attempt with the small squares. What a great question!

  7. Ann on February 5, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    Steve, thank-you so much for sharing your resources. I am using this tomorrow as my intro to a spatial reasoning lesson for grades 2-3. It’s perfect! I also appreciate your instructional videos which are short, concise and full of information. Can’t wait to pay it forward! Ann

    • on February 5, 2017 at 3:25 pm

      My pleasure, Ann! I really appreciate your taking the time to comment. I hope it goes really well tomorrow.

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