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Make a Ten Strategy for Addition

In Kindergarten, our kiddos learn their “Friends of Ten“. In other words, they learn all the combinations that make ten (ex., 2 + 8, 3 + 7, etc.). In 1st grade, as students begin learning their basic addition facts, they apply that knowledge in a strategy known as “make a ten” to help make sense of facts that might otherwise be hard to memorize, such as 8 + 4 or 9 + 5. To use the strategy, students decompose one of the addends to make a ten from the other. If you look at the example pictured below, the 4 is decomposed (split) into 3 and 1. The 3 is combined with the 7 to make 10, and then the 1 is added for 11.

make a ten strategy

The make a ten strategy can be extended when students work with larger numbers. Consider adding 37 + 14. Do you see the relationship to 7 + 4? Using the make a ten strategy, we could decompose 14 into 3 and 11, combine the 3 with 37 to make 40, and add 40 + 11 to get 51. Pretty cool, right?

make a ten strategy

The activity you see pictured above is a great way for students to practice the strategy of making a ten. You can grab yours here. You might also like this post with a freebie for using the Doubles strategy!

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  1. Perfect timing. My first graders are really struggling with this the way our textbook laid it out. Your way is much more logical. Thank you so much. I can’t wait to use this tomorrow.

  2. Wonderful! I just printed and laminated these for my first grade team. They’ll be perfect for our next NY Math module #2. I suggested to my teachers that they use them for small group instruction, an independent center, or partner work. Thanks!

  3. I am so excited to have found this!! We just started this yesterday and it just went over their heads. My plan for the weekend was to look for extra activities and this is perfect! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

  4. Belatedly telling you thank you – used this right before Thanksgiving – because my 2nd graders were still struggling. Thanks for the freebie!

  5. I love this! We are just starting 1.OA.6 and this will be an AWESOME way to show it! I LOVE your stuff! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Thank you for reposting this activity! My first graders are working on this concept and these cards are so much more helpful. I plan on also having them use a double ten frame and a talk card prompt to make it more concrete for some of my students including ELL’s. Perfect timing! Thanks for all of your terrific material! I really appreciate it!

  7. These are perfect and a great follow up to our second grade Math Trailblazers unit for my struggling intervention kiddoes. Your format is so simple and clear! What a great freebie. I plan to share this on my Facebook Page and blog! Many thanks for this great freebie.

    Taryn’s Unique Learning

  8. I am tutoring a 5th grader that doesn’t know his facts. I showed him this strategy and he is improving everyday. Thanks for all of your wonderful post and website.

  9. Thank you! Do you have a resource like this for subtraction? I would like to teach my 2nd graders to find 12-5 (for example) by seeing 5 is 2 plus 3. Thanks!

  10. I am crying tears of joy. This is the first time my 7 year old understood this concept and enjoyed it! Youโ€™ve managed to explain it in a kid friendly way, which our math curriculum did not. Thank you SO much!

    1. Your comment makes me so happy! For a child to find joy in math is the ultimate success! Thank you for sharing.

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