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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Using 10 frames! Part 1

I love ten frames!  They are a great way to build early counting, number sense, addition and subtraction skills.

Some of the ways I use 10 frames (I also do many of these same routines/activities with 5 frames in early kindergarten and 20 frames up through second grade!  Same routines, just different cards)

Flash a 10 frame

  Ask kids how many?  Give a second flash if needed. (flashes should never be longer than 3 seconds)  It is my goal that Kindergartners have this game down cold by the end of the year.  I play it again in the fall of first grade a lot. By the middle of first grade, I play it with the pictures in all kinds of different places.  The goal of this game is to get kids to use subitizing (the ability to see how many without counting).  It is a great way to help students learn to count on.  I ask kids to tell a partner how many they saw and how they know they are right.  This leads to a lot of discussion about addition and subtraction sentences that "prove" they are right.  (examples: I knew it was nine because one was missing and 10-1=9, or I knew it was nine because there were 5 on top and 4 on bottom and 5+4 =9, etc) (Giant side note: This a great time to introduce how to use the equals sign to show equality between two expressions.  Like in the example above, I would write 10 - 1 = 5 + 4 as one equation and the kids would have the picture on the ten frame card to refer back to.)

Build it

 I give kids a blank 10 frame and 10 objects.  I say "build the number 5" or "build the number 8".  Then the kids compare the different ways the number was built on the ten frame.  For example one kid might do 5 on the top and 3 on the bottom, while another kid does 4 on the top and 4 on the bottom, while another kid might say I filled up all 10 and then I took 2 away.  This brings in the topic of combinations (addition facts) that make a given number.  It is fun to see all the creative ways kids think!

How many more do I need? 

 I use this as an extension of both the flash and the build games.  I either flash a card or have students build a certain number and then I ask them how many more do I need to make 10.  Here is a picture of some spring themed 10 frames we were playing this game with today.
I see 6, I need 4 more to make 10

Here I was using the just the top half of the 10 frame as a 5 frame for a Kindergartner who  is really struggling.  
This is such a great game to help kids practice combinations of 5 and 10.

Actually I used this same idea again in second grade today with kids who are working on combinations of 20.   I took a full 10 frame and placed it with a partially full one to make a 20 frame.  Then they could see how many they had and how many they needed to make 20.  One game used in 3 different ways at 3 different grades.  You can tell I am loving these spring themed 10 frames!

Addition Facts 

I have kids use their 10 frames to practice addition facts to 10  (first graders need to be FLUENT with these facts)  I hand kids 2 10 frames and ask them to find the sum.  We get into a lot of big ideas about making a ten with some leftovers when we do this activity.  I really like to push onto adding three or more numbers with these ten frames.  I put out 3 ten frames like 6 + 9 + 4 and ask kids to figure out many total dots.  Kids will add these in such diverse ways it is amazing.  We talk about which strategies are most efficient and we get into the very important discussion of how you can change the order of the numbers you are adding (communicative and associative properties) 

Adding 10/Adding 9/Adding 8 by playing compare

I love compare or "war" games because kids usually already know how to play so you can get to the math right away.  To play this game, I have a deck of 10 frame cards and we pull out the 10 card to start with.  This is our common card.  Then we each take half of the deck and take turns flipping over a card.  We add our card to the 10 card to get our sum.  The person with the largest sum wins.  This is called round 1.  When kids are sounding fluent with round 1, I move onto round 2.  For round 2, we switch the common card from 10 to 9.  Now we add our card to 9.  This is a great way for kids to make the connections between adding 10 and adding 9.  The ten frames are there supporting their thinking and providing a visual model that helps move them towards a thinking strategy.  If/when kids are fluent with adding 9, I move into round 3.  For round 3, we switch the common card from a 9 to an 8.  This game can be adapted in endless ways (try using 7, 6, or 5 as your common card)  I also sometimes have students grab a sheet of scrap paper and create a record sheet of their work.  It is a 3 column t-chart with a partners name on the left and a partners name on the right.  In the middle column, I have them use the <, >, = symbols to show the relationship between their sums.  

Stay tuned for part 2 of the 10 frame series.  As you can tell, I have a lot to say about these little guys!  I also will be posting a list of my favorite online games that use the 10 frame!  

How do your kids use the 10 frame (or 5 or 20 frame)?


  1. GREAT ideas for 10 frames! Your kindergarteners will be really ready for 1st grade! Looking forward to your upcoming posts!

  2. I tried to find your follow button and couldn't, so I'll follow by email!

    First Grade Friendzee

    1. Hi Becky! Thanks for the comments. I don't have a follow button. I will look into that tonight!

  3. My kiddos would definitely benefit from your ten frames activity. Great job!

    A Day in the Life of a Kindergartner

    1. Thanks Adrienne! I am working on two more posts for this series. I have a lot to say about 10 frames!

  4. Hello! I am coming over from TpT round 6 :) I love the 10 frames! In a few weeks we are going to be doing the decomposing numbers like if you had 14 what goes in the 10 frame what's left over etc. I think them having a good base of how the 10 frame works will help with that! We will also work with making 10 in a few weeks and I think your activity will be great for that. Thanks for sharing!!


    Mrs. Payton's Precious Kindergarteners

    1. Hi Kourtney,

      Thanks for the great comment! I will be posting my frog and flower 10 frames as a freebie on Teachers pay Teachers! It sounds like your K kids on well on their way to developing number sense.

  5. These are great ideas! We use 10 frames a lot now and I have done the addition activity. Thank you for sharing!

    Hanging Out in First!

    1. Thanks for the comment. 10 frames are such a great tool. Good luck!

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