Friday, October 25, 2013

Using Ten Frames... and a Free Football Set!

Hello, Teaching Friends!

Do you use ten frames in your math lessons and centers? What an amazing tool they are!

For counting and cardinality, a blank frame is a perfect  organizational tool for counting small manipulatives. How about a "Shake and Spill" activity? Students put ten counters in a small container, give it a shake, spill out a few, and then arrange them on the ten frame to count them.
This activity also lays the groundwork for subitizing, since it will help children develop an instantaneous memory of how a quantity looks.

Early on, it's good to model traditional placement of counters... horizontal, top row first, left to right, then bottom row left to right.

* Do you know that "traditional horizontal placement" is not the only correct way to fill a ten frame? Keep reading for more info on that!

Ten frames are a great pictorial bridge as you guide your students from the concrete to the abstract stage. They can be used like flashcards, as an easy addition to your calendar time or as a math lesson warm-up. With practice, your students will identify the number a ten frame represents every bit as quickly and automatically as they read sight words!

I could go on and on about uses for ten frames... complements of ten, addition as counting on, missing addends,... but I ran across this video that says it far better than I can. It's a great site, too, with lots of information that would also be good to help parents in understanding your math program.
FYI: I have no affiliation with this site or company... just came across it and thought I'd share it with you!

Don't miss "Free Stuff!" (who can resist?) for five sample lessons and two free games. Click on "What Is It?" to see the video. That's where you'll see the explanation for why it's perfectly acceptable...  and actually very helpful ... to use counter placements that go beyond the traditional left-to-right-fill-top-row-first. Arranging the counters as suggested in the video (basically, turning the ten frame into a vertical orientation) will help your students understand even and odd as partners vs. partners plus one. Using ten frames this way is also a great visual tool for adding doubles.

Here's a free set of seasonal ten frame cards so you can try out some of the ideas. Footballs! Click here or on the image to download from Google Drive.

The football cards are part of this autumn math set: 8 fall themes, 3 games, and 2 sets of number cards for matching. Click here or on the picture to see it at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

Do you have a unique way of using ten frames in your classroom?

Happy Teaching!


  1. Thank you so much for this! I love the idea of turning the ten frame vertically. I looked at the other website and LOVED it! It absolutely makes so much sense. Thanks again for sharing it. It is so useful!

    1. You're welcome, Laura! It makes a lot of sense to apply a known tool for a new purpose.

  2. Thanks for sharing the helpful website! Smiles, Jayne
    Smart Kids
    ABCs of Reading

    1. You're welcome, Jayne! Their video clips give good clear explanations, don't you think?


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