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Addictive Game for Practicing Combinations for Ten

Because ten has such importance in our number system, students need lots of opportunities to explore the combinations for ten. Back when I pulled small intervention groups for grades 1-5, I played this game with all of my groups! And they absolutely loved it.

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Prior to playing the game, it’s good to establish all of the combinations for ten and create an anchor chart that can be used for visual support. Here’s a lesson you can use to accomplish that.

First up, I started the lesson with the beginning of an anchor chart. The title was Ways to Make 10 and the two column headings were Purple and Green (I was using purple and green two-color counters). I showed students the first ten-frame, filled with all purple counters. I asked how many purple counters we had (10) and how many green (0). I added an entry to the anchor chart. I turned over one counter to the green side, repeated my question, and added another entry to the anchor chart. Just to make sure the students were grasping the concept, I asked some probing questions: So what is our total here? (10); What are two ways we composed ten? (10 and 0, 9 and 1).

Next, I had the students work in pairs with their own ten-frame and counters to try to find additional combination for ten. As they found combinations, I listed them on the anchor chart in the order they found them.

After the students had had enough time to explore, I pulled them back together. I asked, “Huh, I wonder if we got all the combinations? Is there a way we could figure it out?”. The answer I was looking for was that organizing our data would help. I created a new anchor chart with the combinations in order, verifying that we had all of the combinations.

Finally, I asked students to provide the equations to match each of the combinations. Once I had them all added to the anchor chart, I asked the students what they noticed. A student noticed that 8 +2 was up toward the top and 2 + 8 was down toward the bottom. I drew the arch to connect the two equations. Of course, then students noticed that each of the facts had a turn-around fact, except for 5 + 5. Be sure this anchor chart is posted in your room all year long, and remind students to refer to it often!

Now that students have explored all of the combinations for ten, they are ready to practice! This game is called Seven Up, and comes from a program called Do the Math, not to be confused with the game you play by moving around the room and pressing down thumbs. All you need to play is an ordinary deck of cards. Before beginning, take out the face cards (jacks, queens, and kings). Aces will be used as ones. To play, lay out seven cards face up. I feel a bit like a blackjack dealer when we play! The game is played cooperatively, that is, students don’t play against each other and there is no winner. Students are looking for pairs of numbers that make ten. If they see one, they show me a silent thumb to the chest. I call on a student and they say the equation and take the cards. The ten is used by itself, but the students must say 10 + 0 = 10. Replace the cards that were taken with two more from the deck, always leaving seven cards facing up. Continue finding pairs, taking them off, and replacing them. If there are no pairs for ten in the seven cards showing, lay down another seven cards on top of the others. Now when students take off two cards, the cards underneath will be revealed, so you don’t need to replace them with new cards. I hope that makes sense.

make a ten game

You can actually play this game for the combinations of any number, not just ten, by removing some cards from the deck. For example, if you are practicing the combinations for 5, use only the Ace through 5 cards.

While this is a Kindergarten skill, I found that all of my students needed the practice, and my 4th and 5th graders liked playing it as much as my 1st and 2nd graders.

If you are looking for another engaging way to practice tens, check out my Make a Ten Bingo game!

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  1. I always have a group of 2nd graders who struggle to know their 10s partners. This game will be perfect for small group help. Thank you for sharing!!

  2. Glad you mentioned the 4th and 5th graders who still like to play, because I’m finding some 5th graders that still NEED to play this game!!!

  3. I love this! We play a game called “Make 10” which is in Investigations. The kids put out their cards like the Memory Game and they flip over two. If the pair make 10, they keep the cards! I have the kids write all of their equations in a math journal, and they circle the equations that make 10!

  4. So many kids benefit from more practice with the make ten partners! This game could also be played with 10 frame cards with kids who need even more support with friends of 10.

    The Math Maniac

  5. This was great! So simple, yet to effective and engaging! The kids loved it and wanted to play again and again. It also gave me the great way to teach about the “Make a Ten” strategy. And I felt like I was at the casino! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. I will be a new (new building position) academic intervention specialist (math) for grades 1-5. Could you tell me a bit more about the program you use, Do The Math?

    1. Do the Math is great for developing number sense and flexibility with numbers. It is a very methodical program and must be used with fidelity to yield results. I find that I have to supplement it with lessons on place value and to incorporate more problem solving. If you’d like to learn more, you might check out their website.

  7. You could use this same game to decompose any number. if you took out all the 8, 9 and 10’s you could use the same format to make 7’s and so on!

  8. So many kids benefit from more practice with the make ten partners! This game could also be played with 10 frame cards with kids who need even more support with friends of 10.

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