Read the Basics: Chunk itZ

Chunk itZ are a visual spatial tool for building “number sense” for quantity to 10.

You can now order Chunk itZ online:

As they BUILD with the Chunk itZ students are internalizing THE BASICS for knowing, recalling and REASONING about number properties and number facts to 10.

They are using the brain’s ability to see and think in small units: subitizing.

With the Chunk itZ, learners construct and confirm a relational understanding of number to 10.



Students explore relationships by creating and outlining puzzles. Tracing and outlining with accuracy and perseverance. Small muscle development, hand eye co-ordination and the ability to grip without strangling the pen and trace without bumps and slips are key physical skills that impact all learning.

What encouragement would you give this student to improve his grip?
look at grip on 3



As students trace, teachers immerse them in the vocabulary of position, space, number properties.
Shape and space words like:
  • vertical
  • horizontal
  • rotate to the right
  • rotate to the left
  • sides
  • vertices
  • area               

Number ideas that link to:

  • part whole relationships
  • expressions as descriptions of quantities
  • missing addends
  • the commutative and associative properties
  • the meaning  of  the equal sign


Unitizing is a bigger idea than just subitize. Subitize refers to immediate recognition of small collections. Identify, trace & trust 2s, 3s then 5s. (Four, six and nine can be included as doubles and triples). This builds the foundation for thinking in units. Without “unit thinking” students have nothing but counting by ones, a skill that will not build fluency with facts.
more twos
What feedback can we give?


Link the symbols and practice printing.

Kin chunk backward 3
she has a 3 card to copy
If we give students model numbers to study and copy we will see far fewer reversals.
CI count by twos
CI count by 5s
CI count by 4s



Interpreting, describing and “solving” puzzles builds thinking and reasoning skills. Students are challenged to manipulate the pieces in all directions as they fit them together. Gently but consistently, the teacher pushes students to see in their mind and describe without touching. Big ideas like unitizing and proportional reasoning are built into this approach.
Another five puzzle
What pieces make my puzzle?
I made a six
I think this is 6?
The Chunk itZ support materials include tasks and task sheets to direct teachers and students on a pathway that develops both the physical and the executive control skills students must master if they are to be successful in school K to 12. We are connecting across the grades, across content to develop the whole learner. See ChunkZ Book
Make CI 2 3 5
CI make with 2, 3, 5




Students build and trace puzzles. Then as a class or individually ask: “Can you build my puzzle?” Student can trade puzzles and try….
CI does not fit puzzle
Students can match a puzzle you present:


CI match my puzzle


The final step: Work from a distance.  

girls tryiing to build CI puzzle

Count sides CI

How many sides, how many vertices does each piece have? What shape does it create? This is an irregular hexagon.

Chunkit make sense of expression7
What is his understanding of 5?

Gr 2 chunk fit 25 in

Figuring out what pieces fit where and how?




The literature coming from a steadily developing body of very robust and reliable research focused on the difficulties that are blocking achievement Grades 7 and up makes clear that students do not understand number, number properties and number operations in a connected and meaning- filled way. Too many students believe math to be a set of disconnected answers rather than a way of thinking which can be mastered by anyone. Answers matter but understanding why that is the answer matters more.

Chunk Equalities
4 +3=5+2

Work with the Chunk itZ places the focus on expressions to describe ways students see numbers. As students describe their puzzles, the teacher actively engages them in studying how to connect expressions. the focus is additive composition. What parts make this particular whole and how are they related. This focus on relationships lays a foundation for future grades that is absolutely critical. Teaching that attends to relationships puts a focus on seeing and explaining patterns which leads to the ability to generalize and apply procedures and formulas while it also develops and strengthens memory and recall skills. Students actively engage in their learning: discussing, debating, comparing. Engagement builds attention and attention leads to learning. And just as important, the relationships students are mastering will become the central focus in higher grades as they move into algebra and geometry.

Chunkz 5+2=4+3
chunkz 7 = 7


ci make 12


ci make 15



The link to equations is made with purpose and clarity. We are not “making” is statements. (Three and two makes five.) The equal sign does not mean “here comes the answer.”  In the picture below the focus with the symbolic is not on getting the answer but rather it is on connecting expressions to demonstrate relationships between facts.
Screen Shot 2017-12-04 at 7.30.17 AM
The associative property
emerges in a meaning filled way, not as a rule to remember. (The associative property is named in an outcome in Grade 2. Young learners are more than capable of attending to it!) If 8 = 2 + 3 + 3   8 = 5 + 3   then

2 + 3 + 3 = (2 + 3) + 3   or 2 + (3 + 3) = 2 + 6

When students just want to write equations, teacher re direct their attention by challenging them to see equations as more than “answers” on the right. This student is excited to write 6 + 1 = 7, the teacher prompt is to push him or her to a richer understanding of the task by suggesting another expression.

chunkz 7 = 7

Build CI Puzzles 2019

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