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Handy Ten Frame Placemat with Number Sense Routines

One of the joys of my job is traveling to work with teachers and districts. One such trip took me to sunny Avon Park, FL, working with teachers from Avon Elementary. It was an extra-special treat because I finally got to meet and spend time with my previously-cyber-friend turned flesh-and-blood-friend, Sara! She was such a gracious hostess and made me feel right at home.

Sara and her friend Kelly took me out to dinner one night, and we talked about…what else…MATH. They shared a neat routine that they used last year, and I wanted to share it. So I proudly present to you Sara and Kelly’s Ten Frame Placemat (now hot pink to match Sara’s classroom decor!).

They made ten-frame mats for each student on 11 x 17 paper and laminated them. I made two versions, one with a number line at the top and the other with a number path.

Here are notes from Kelly on ways they used them:

  • Have students start at the top left and “read” the placemat from left to right: “1, 2, 3…” Go to the second row and continue counting. Ask students to analyze the frames as they move along and have them describe what is happening as they move from frame to frame (more dots, less white space, add a dot every time, etc.).  You could ask students what the frame before the 1-frame would look like, and what would we call it- why would we call it “zero.”  (A zero-frame just wouldn’t fit on this page!)  You could do the same with the frame to the right of the 9-frame.
  • Call out different numbers randomly and have students touch that frame.  They could quiz each other by taking turns calling out a number and having their partner find the number.
  • The frames should be large enough to use counters to fill in white spaces to model addition sentences.  For example, the teacher says, “Find the 3-frame. Add one. How many are there now?  How did you know?  Do you see any frame that is the same as this one?”  The teacher could model this using a document camera before having the class do it.
  • Subtraction sentences could be modeled.  The teacher would say, “Find the 7-frame.  Subtract 2. (Students cover 2 dots with a hand or fingers.) What is the difference?”  Subtraction expressions could be written on the board as well.
  • Find “10 Partners:” the teacher would say, “Touch the 2-frame.  What it the 10-partner? (8) What do you notice about the dot places on the 2-frame and the white spaces on the 8-frame?”  Repeat with other frames.
  • Mental math: the teacher would call out an addition or subtraction sentence (or write it on the board) and students would find the frame for the sum or difference.

And here are some pictures of their placements in use.

Didn’t I tell you this is a great little tool? If you think of other ideas to add to the routines listed, please comment and share. Click here to grab your copy of the two versions of the placement. They’re sized to print on 11 x 17 (which works great for using it with counters), but you can “fit” them to print on other sizes as well.

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    1. It’s great!! Same to you! I am SO excited-at a new school this year and I am in the same building with my kids!!! Still hoping you will come to Ohio one of these days! 🙂

    1. It was a great two days! It’s so exhilarating talking to teachers who are so passionate about teaching and their kiddos! 🙂

  1. I really like this concept. But I think 2 rows of 5 dots each is not a good idea. It will cause kids to consider 5 a special number and may lead to some undesirable mental models. In fact, 9 dots in a row would be better in my opinion because then you can teach the concept of decimals easily.

    1. There’s lots of research that supports using the ten-frame structure for young children. Van de Walle considers 5 and 10 as critical benchmark numbers.

      “We want to help children relate a given number to other numbers, specifically 5 and 10. These relationships are especially useful in thinking about various combinations of numbers.”

      A ten-frame helps children see the number 8 for example, as “5 and 3 more” but also “2 away from 10”. This type of number sense sets the stage for learning basic facts with conceptual understanding.

      He goes on to say, “The most common and perhaps most important model for exploring this relationship is the ten-frame”.

  2. It was wonderful meeting YOU!!! LOVE the pink dots and the number line. Hope this tool is enjoyed by others.

    1. Sara, what a great idea! Donna, thanks for sharing! I love it and am eager to make some for my K’s. Thanks again.

  3. Thanks for sharing. These are great! But what about the 10 frame for the number 10? isn’t that just as important?

    1. Of course it’s important, Pam! The kiddos will get to use ten-frames for lots of different activities in the classroom. For this particular activity, the numbers 1-9 fit perfectly on the mat.

    2. I gotcha….that makes sense. Thank you so much again. You have helped me to become a better Math teacher, and I look forward to reading your future posts.

  4. Hi Donna, I’ve been getting your blog updates for ages and have done lots of reading and thinking as a result of reading your posts, so I just wanted to write and say thanks. I have a class set of these tens frames all ready to go with my Y2/3 class this week. (G1/2 in USA) I like the idea of using these as part of my repertoire of daily routines to develop number sense and imaging.
    Thanks for all your sharing.

    1. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment, Tina! Always nice to hear that something I’m doing is helping out. 🙂

    1. Hey, Alison! Nice to hear from you. I totally agree that the resources available on the Internet are mind-blowing! What an exciting time to be a teacher. 🙂

    1. I am really sorry that the printing didn’t work for you!! I wish you had contacted me before it frustrated you so badly. Sometimes Google Docs can be a little squirrelly, but I can usually help.

  5. Love it! I may try to change the dot color to match my classroom – but I am certainly going to use this!!
    Mrs. Cobb’s Kindersprouts

  6. I’m thinking that you could print them on regular sized photocopier paper and just use smarties or some other small manipulative to “play” with it! Awesome…thanks for sharing!

  7. Thank you for your product. I LOVE the research behind the tens frames and introduced them for the first time during an observation on the 16th day of school. However, I got burned. The administration wanted to know how many children I had in the class who could count past ten. (Seriously, they thought I was merely teaching them to count to 10). I used a great differentiated lesson from a well-known blogger, too. It included a self-correcting component, a numeral writing component, and a counting sequence component. They want more rigor in the Kindergarten classroom and they saw no evidence of student learning. I am an experienced teacher with an excellent reputation. My children can read and write when they leave me but the whole “increase the rigor” attitude is killing me. Increasing the rigor to the extent that my administration wants it is simply not developmentally appropriate. Thanks for letting me vent–my first post of the day!

    1. That is a major bummer! Did they see you using the ten-frames to make combinations for 10? That is a totally different skill (and standard) than rote counting. Showing a ten-frame with 4 dots and asking “How many more to make 10?” supports CCSS K.OA.4. It is an Operations and Algebraic Thinking standard, not Counting and Cardinality.

  8. We use these too except we teach kids to put the numbers in from top to bottom as this also gives students a visual of odd and even numbers. E.g. all odd numbers on top 1,3,7,9 with the even ones on the bottom row. This method is backed up by research (see George Booker).

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