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Comparing Numbers to 20 Using Ten-Frames

Written by Donna Boucher

Donna has been a teacher, math instructional coach, interventionist, and curriculum coordinator. A frequent speaker at state and national conferences, she shares her love for math with a worldwide audience through her website, Math Coach’s Corner. Donna is also the co-author of Guided Math Workshop.

The numbers from 11-20 can be tricky for students. We want them to understand that each of those numbers is a group of ten and some extras. Or, in the case of 20, two groups of ten.

This post contains affiliate links, which simply means that when you use my link and purchase a product, I receive a small commission. There is no additional cost to you, and I only link to books and products that I personally use and recommend.

We can reinforce these early place value understanding even when practicing other skills within twenty, such as comparing numbers. The key is to start with concrete materials–teddy bear counters, linking cubes, or two-color counters. Showing groups of ten, and using contrasting colors, emphasizes the ten and additional ones. So if the students are building 13, for example, they should use 10 lining cubes of one color and 3 linking cubes of another color.

They do the same thing with the teddy bear counters or two-color counters. It builds the concept of 10 and also makes the comparison much easier for them. It’s much quicker to count a ten and 3 more, instead of having to count 13 one by one.

We also want students to make connections between the concrete (manipulatives), pictorial (pictures), and abstract (symbolic) representations. We can accomplish that using a recording sheet, such as the one shown here. Notice that using the ten-frames with two colors emphasizes the ten and extra ones, just like we did with the manipulatives. You can pair this recording sheet with the use of any of the manipulatives. So, for example, students could build the two numbers using teddy bear counters and record their comparison on the sheet. Consider allowing students to choose the manipulatives they want to use!

You can grab the recording sheet here. Leave a comment describing how you used this activity in your classroom!

 

 

22 Comments

  1. Amy B

    Thanks for sharing Donna! I will use this if I am in Kindergarten and will change the words to greater or less than if I stay in 1st. I have spent an hour looking through all of your awesome posts and products!!! You are amazing!!!

    Thanks again!
    Amy Burton

    Reply
  2. Donna Boucher

    Thanks Amy! Yes, this could easily be adapted for 1st. I love ten-frames!

    Donna

    Reply
  3. jbales

    Thank you, Donna. I always look forward to your posts. You are such a generous, creative teacher.

    I will adapt this for first grade too.
    Julie

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      You’re welcome, Julie! Yes, this would be great for 1st grade…especially at the first of the year.

      Reply
  4. Charlotte Braddock

    Hi Donna,

    This is a great freebie! I will use this with my kindergarten class. Hey, I just posted a couple of fun freebie at my new blog. You might want to check it out.

    http://cathedralkindergarten.blogspot.com

    Creatively yours,

    Charlotte from Charlotte’s Clips and Kindergarten Kids

    Reply
  5. Tammy

    This is perfect for the beginning of first. Thanks!
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

    Reply
  6. Melissa Castellanos

    Thanks for sharing! I have some kiddos in my first grade that could still use this now!
    Melissa

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      My pleasure, Melissa!

      Reply
  7. Beth Korda

    Thank you!

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      You’re welcome, Beth! 🙂

      Reply
  8. kraftykathy

    Thank you. I am really trying to key in on ten frames and subitizing this year. These pages will be great practice.

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      You’re welcome, Kathy!

      Reply
  9. Rebecca Tomes

    Hey Donna,

    My team is having a debate. Is common core looking at ten frames only in Kindergarten for composing and decomposing numbers? That seems to be the case. What is your opinion on this?

    Rebecca (from A Flip Flop Kindergarten)

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      I see ten frames as a tool to teach many of the common core standards in K-2.

      Reply
  10. Mrs. M

    I love your stuff! I am a recent follower and have learned so many new things so far. Your facebook updates are great. Any chance you could change the words to greater or less? Or maybe add a page so you have the option of both? Thanks!

    Amy

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      So glad you like the blog, Amy! I will add your request to my to-do list, but I can’t promise speedy turnaround. Maybe you could just white out the ‘(bigger/smaller)’ part and instruct the kiddos to use ‘greater than/less than)’.

      Reply
  11. Patricia

    Thank you so much for all your great ideas. I can’t wait to use this one in my classroom. I started using the 10 frames more this year and I can actually see a difference. 🙂

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      I’m sure you can, Patricia! They are a great tool!

      Reply
  12. Kathleen

    So straightforward and doable. Using it tomorrow. Thanks! I tell everyone in my district that if they are going to follow any blog, it should be yours. You have an awesome math brain 🙂

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      That’s sweet, Kathleen. Thanks so much!

      Reply
  13. Mary

    Thank you for this fantastic Freebie! I can’ wait to incorporate it into my number work.

    Reply
  14. Melissa LaPietra

    Thank you Donna, it was exactly what I was looking for! Perfect for my math based field placement. I can’t wait to implement it in my lesson.

    Reply

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