Ten Frame Math Activities Your Students Will Love

Photo of ten frame with 7 red dots. Text says: Ten Frame Math Activities Your Students Will Love.

Are you looking for ways to shake up your ten frame math lessons? Look no further! This blog post shares several exciting ten frame activities. 

But first…

What are ten frames and why do we teach them?

Ten frames are a visual way to represent the numbers 0-10. The frame itself is a 2 by 5 grid. One dot is placed in each square to represent a number. 

So, 3 would be represented with 3 dots in the top row.

Ten Frame with 3 dots.

The top row filled would represent 5.

Ten frame with 5 dots in top row.

The full frame would show 10.

Ten frame filled with 10 dots.

(Note: the dots in a ten frame can be organized in any manner, not simply in a line.)

Ten frame with 3 dots on left (2 on top and one on bottom) and 4 dots on right.

Ten frames are a helpful tool to teach subitizing skills. (Subitizing is the ability to quickly recognize the quantify of a group. Learn more here.)

But ten frames help students learn so much more!

1. Ten is a benchmark number in our numeral system. The dots in a ten frame help students develop a deeper understanding of the value of ten. This is a foundation for number sense skills.

2. Students can use ten frames to learn about number combinations that create ten (such as 7 and 3). This helps them with mental math (adding, subtracting, identifying missing addends, etc.)

3. Our math is built on a base ten system. Understanding how one ten frame can represent ten individual dots is a beginning step in understanding how the number 1 in the tens place can represent ten ones.

A pair of ten frames can visual represent this.

Two ten frames: one full and the second with 4 dots on top row.

How can you use ten frames in the classroom?

Ten frames are such a useful tool for building number sense. Fortunately, there are lots of fun ten frame math activities to choose from.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Ten Frame Flash

Use a set of large ten frame cards (or show them on your digital whiteboard.)

Show a ten frame briefly (1-2 seconds), then hide it. 

Encourage students to rapidly recognize the quantity represented on the ten frame (without counting).

Once students become automatic with the traditional organization of dots on the ten frame, add in ten frames with non-standard dot patterns, like those below.

Four ten frames representing 7, 6, 8 and 6 with non-traditional arrangements of dots.

Count and Match

This activity is perfect for a ten frame math center or partner activity.

Provide blank ten frames and counters or small manipulatives. Also include number cards (1-10).

Have students place the number cards upside down in a pile.

One child turns over a number card, names the number and covers the squares on the ten frame with counters to match the quantity on the card.

Ten frame with 7 red counters and a number card with "7" on it.

Allow partners to check one another’s work.

For an added challenges, provide two blank ten frames and the numbers 1-20.

Ten Frame Bingo

Create bingo cards that use ten frames instead of numbers. (Or use this pre-made set of bingo cards.)

Photo of two bingo cards with bingo markers around them.

Play Bingo as normal, except when you call out a number, students must find the matching then frame representation on their board.

(Note: a 3×3 or 4×4 board is much easier for students to scan quickly. When playing with a smaller board, it’s often best to play “blackout bingo,” where the winner needs to cover the entire board.)

As an alternative, the student boards can have numbers, and the calling cards can show ten frames. Instead of calling out the number, you might quickly show the ten frame (silently) and have students find the corresponding number.

Ten Frame Sequence

Print off ten frames representing all the numbers from 1-10. 

Challenge students to put the ten frame cards in order on the floor.

Ten Frame War

Use these FREE ten frame cards to play Ten Frame War.

Photo of two ten frame cards, one showing 9 dots and the other showing 16 dots.

Print the deck of cards. Place the deck face down between the players.

Have each player turn over one card and identify the number represented on the card.

The player with the greater number wins that round. Continue playing.

When the cards from the deck are gone, the player with the most cards wins.

Ten Frame Fun

These ten frame math activities will add fun to your math routines. Try a few today!

You can find more number sense games in this blog post.

Photo of ten frame with 7 red dots. Text says: Ten Frame Math Activities Your Students Will Love.

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