Ten frame is a useful tool when counting. It helps with a child’s number sense. You usually start with a 5-frame and move on to a ten frame. Ten frames help student model numbers and therefore help understand counting, place value, and their whole number operations.
As you can see, a ten frame is made up of two-by-five rectangular frames. It helps visualize numbers from 1 to 10. One way to use this is to place counters on the ten frame to show numbers. You can show numbers in order at first, counting from left to right. You have to start from the top row to show five and then move on to the second row. Once they have mastered this, you can mix things up and show numbers in random order.
So, why ten? Ten is the building block of our place value system. This is a foundational concept and a useful tool once you start with whole number operations. Composing and decomposing a number is a foundational skill. Ten frames will help students see that the number 8 is made up of 5 and 3, or that it is 2 less than 10. Knowing this concept early on will help build a better understanding of addition and subtraction.
When teaching counting, starting with smaller numbers is key. Once your students have mastered the small numbers, then you can move on to bigger numbers.
To have a feel of how ten frames work, you can download this activity. It is similar to our Count the Beachballs activity, but this one is in a worksheet format.
Once you think that your student is ready for addition, you can try our Lego Addition Using a Ten Frame activity.