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.
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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!