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3 Ways to Effectively Use Ten Frames


Do you ever find yourself fumbling through various math manipulatives to help you with various math concepts?  Do you struggle to find ways to teach your children how to add or subtract?  Are you experiencing meltdown after meltdown? Look no further!

When I discovered Ten Frames, it changed my world as I quickly saw the light bulbs go on in my student's minds throughout the many years of teaching in the classroom. 

 A Ten Frame is a math manipulative that can be used in math that helps teach basic number sense through the composing and decomposing of numbers within 5, 10, 20, and beyond.  Ten Frames help us understand the operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.  


Way #1         

The image above shows 4 ten frames that illustrate 4 different addition number sentences.  The way these frames are set up are to provide a visual picture at a quick glance so that students are able to compose number sentences without having to count individual boxes.  The idea here is that there are 5 rows on the top of the frame, and 5 rows on the bottom of the frame.  If the eye naturally sees the frames at a glance, we are more likely to detect which numbers are represented without having to count each and every box.  Furthermore, there are 2 different colors per each ten frame to represent each addend in the number sentence.  When using ten frames for addition, multiple frames can be added to create number sentences with larger addends. 


Way #2

The second way to use ten frames is to practice number sentences within subtraction.  When subtracting, you'll notice that the ten frames are completely filled in and one color.  This allows students to manually cross out the amount needed to subtract.  Within subtraction, one of the concepts we drive home is that the larger number needs to be placed first within a number sentence, hence why the ten frames are completely filled.  


Way #3

The third way ten frames can be utilized is providing them to students completely blank.  By doing so, students are able to be creative with their own number sentences (addition or subtraction).  When adding, they can choose their own color sets, can choose to add images instead of circles, the choices are endless.  The same goes with subtraction.  The newly created subtraction number sentences don't necessarily have to include a full ten frame.  

Ten frames can be used as much or as little as preferred.  The options are endless really when it comes to this genius visual concept.  Ten frames are wonderful math tools to utilize to introduce number sentences or just to simply use it as a way to visually organize groups to be added or subtracted.  As mentioned, they can be utilized when learning to count by 10's, multiplying groups of 10, and can even be used to divide.  

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