These elementary math ideas score a perfect 10!
Have you tried 10 frames in your math teaching? They’re a popular way to help kids recognize numbers and then learn how they work together to add up to 10. Experiment with these 10 frame activities to help kids learn those vital math skills.
1. Set the scene with an anchor chart.
Start with an anchor chart that covers the basics. Then you can leave it up on the wall to support all your 10 frame activities going forward.
2. Practice counting with DIY rock markers.
Introduce 10 frames early, when kids are still learning to recognize numbers and put them in order. These two-sided DIY painted rocks have numerals on one side and dots on the other. Little ones can match the numerals or count the dots and put them in the right places.
Learn more: A Little Pinch of Perfection
3. Build a 10 frame from LEGO bricks.
Ten frame activities will be even more meaningful if kids build their own 10 frames first. You already know your students love LEGO bricks, so this project is sure to be a hit!Learn more: Lalymom
4. Snack your way to 10.
Help students grow comfortable with 10 frame concepts by using cereal pieces or other small snacks to match the number on each of these free printable cards.
Learn more: Preschool Play & Learn
5. Turn an egg carton into a 10 frame.
Sure, eggs come by the dozen, but all you have to do is chop off the two sections on the end, and you’ve got a DIY 10 frame. This is a terrific way to recycle in the classroom, too.
Learn more: Happy Toddler Playtime
6. Get to 10 with clip cards.
Little fingers get hand-eye-coordination practice with these free printable cards. Kids count the number of stars shown, then place a clothespin on the number needed to make 10.
Learn more: The Measured Mom
7. Roll out the play dough.
Is there anything better than learning that feels more like playing? Break out the play dough and have kids roll balls to represent the numbers on these free printable mats. They can even shape the play dough to form each number itself.
Learn more: Life Over C’s
8. Spell out a name frame.
Kids use their own names to complete this 10 frame activity, so each one will be different. They’ll practice fine-motor skills by cutting out the letters too.
Learn more: Fun With Firsties
9. Construct a craft stick 10 frame.
Use wooden craft sticks from the dollar store and have students glue together frames to use for all kinds of 10 frame activities. These are inexpensive enough for each student to have one or more of their own.
Learn more: Teaching in Progress
10. Play 10 frame four-in-a-row.
Math games are always popular with kids. Visit the link below to get the free printable boards and cards, then have students compete to see who can get four in a row first.
Learn more: My Fabulous Class
11. Make it stick with a cookie sheet 10 frame.
Draw a 10 frame on an inexpensive cookie sheet with a dry-erase marker and glue magnets to the back of counter chips for easy math manipulatives that can be used over and over.
Learn more: Miss Giraffe’s Class
12. Stack up 10 frame pairs of cups.
If you’ve never tried a cup-stacking activity with your class before, you’re missing out. Kids pick a 10 frame cup then find the matching numeral cup. They then add each pair to the stack, trying to see how high they can build the pyramid.
Learn more: The Kindergarten Smorgasboard
13. Use 10 frames to reward good behavior.
If you’re using sticker charts for behavior rewards, why not add a math element with 10 frames? As students work toward rewards, they can calculate how many more stickers they need by looking at the frames.
Learn more: Fluttering Through the Grades
14. Tape off 10 frames on your floor tiles.
If your floor tiles are square, this is an especially easy project, and blue painters’ tape pulls up easily without leaving residue behind. You can use these for 10 frame activities with the whole class at once.
Learn more: Holding Hands and Sticking Together
15. Count the school days together.
Counting the school days is a fun way for kids to practice higher numbers as the year goes on. Add a 10 frame element to your calendar time to enhance students’ math skills.
Learn more: Ship Shape Elementary
16. Challenge them with a 10 frame memory game.
Make a set of 10 frame cards with matching numeral cards. Turn them upside down in rows and allow each student a turn to try to make a match, removing each pair as it’s found.
Learn more: The Elementary Math Maniac
17. Find a friend to make 10.
Tie cords to 10 frame cards to hang around kids’ necks, then send them off to find the friend that makes 10! Try using this to pair students up for team activities.
Learn more: The First Grade Parade
18. Take your 10 frames outside.
When the weather’s nice, take your class outdoors and draw 10 frames on the grass or playground. Roll giant inflatable dice to place counters (mini Frisbees are cute for this), then see how many are still needed to make 10.
Learn more: Kinderbrations
19. Go for a ride-along with 10 frame trucks.
Print, cut out, and laminate a set of these free semitruck 10 frame cards. Use dry-erase markers to write a number or equation on one half, and fill in the 10 frame correctly on the other.
Learn more: Teach With Me
20. Create a life-size 10 frame mat.
If you can’t tape off tiles directly on your floor, make a life-size 10 frame mat instead. This teacher used a shower curtain liner cut in half, and the resulting size is perfect for kids to stand on!
Learn more: First Grade Wow
21. Face off in 10 frame War.
Give each student a stack of 10 frame cards to turn face down. They each turn over the top card on their stack at once; the student with the highest card wins the round and takes both.
Learn more: First Grade Garden
22. Punch it out to 10.
Strengthen small fingers with this 10 frame activity. Kids use a hole punch to make circles to fill the frames, demonstrating all the different ways to make 10.
Learn more: Tunstall’s Teaching Tidbits
23. Take a 10 frame spin.
Get this free printable spinner at the link below, which you can use for a variety of different 10 frame activities. Tip: Use the point of a pencil and a paper clip to make a quick and easy spinner arrow.
Learn more: Grade Onederful
24. Erect block towers for counting practice.
Stack LEGO or Duplo blocks to match the numbers in each square, giving kids counting and number matching practice while they build.
Learn more: A Little Pinch of Perfect
25. Go dotty with circle markers.
Grab the free printable worksheets at the link below and laminate them so they’ll last longer. Have kids use washable dot markers to help them complete the equations.
Learn more: 123 Homeschool 4 Me
26. Work on the concept of adding nine.
Most students quickly learn how easy adding 10 is. They can apply this skill to adding nine, too, and this 10 frame activity will help them master the concept.
Learn more: Miss Giraffe’s Class
27. Deal out a 10.
Draw card from a standard deck (you can discard the face cards first if you like) and mark it off on a 10 frame. Then work out how many are needed to make 10 and write out the number sentence.
Learn more: Math Coach
28. Add up candy to practice teens facts.
Once kids have mastered basic math facts, it’s time to move on to higher numbers. Use candy pieces along with the free printables found at the link below to practice these skills.
Learn more: You’ve Got This Math
29. Assemble a 10 frame sensory bag.
Sensory bags are lots of fun for toddlers. Learn how to make one for 10 frame activities at the link below using just a zipper bag and some baby oil.
Learn more: Happy Toddler Playtime
30. Get up and stomp your feet.
Give kids a chance to make some noise! Flash a 10 frame card and let them stomp their feet to count out the number of dots shown.
Learn more: A Blog From the Pond
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About the Author
Jill Staake is a Contributing Editor with WeAreTeachers. She has a degree in Secondary English Education and has taught in middle and high school classrooms. She's also done training and curriculum design for a financial institution and been a science museum educator. She currently lives in Tampa, Florida where she often works on her back porch while taking frequent breaks for bird-watching and gardening.
Enhance Early Math Skills With These Clever 10 Frame Activities