A New Way to Teach Math to Your Kids

Use a fun, visual activity to teach numbers and basic math to your child.

When it’s time to introduce math to your child’s education, it’s best to use a variety of teaching styles to help your child retain the lessons. Sing to a counting song for auditory learning, form the numbers with play-dough for a kinesthetic activity, and use ten frames as an effective, visual activity.ten frames math activity

What are ten frames?

Ten frames are a visual math activity that help children understand number identification. This visual learning method is also known as subitizing. Subitizing is instantly seeing a value, or “how many.” For example, when a child is shown a picture of dots, they instantly know the numerical value of the dots in the picture.

Many educators use ten frames activities in Kindergarten and 1st Grade to strengthen math concepts like counting, number combinations that make 10 (2+8, 5+5, 1+9), and place value. It is a very versatile tool that parents can also use at home for math practice!

Do Ten Frames Activities at Home

Not sure how to use ten frames? Follow the directions below!

Set up the ten frames

How ten frames works is simple. To start, create a two by five grid. If you do it right, there should be a total of 10 squares (or frames) inside of the grid. Place markers inside each frame to make up a number. Younger kids might have to use their fingers to count the markers that fill the frames. But eventually, they will “see” the value of the pairs inside the frames, and recognize a number value instead of counting. Still don’t get it? Watch this video introduction to ten frames. Create your own ten frames, or download pre-made ten frame templates & activities here.

Choose markers that will get your child excited

Here’s the fun part – You can get creative when picking the markers to fill the frames. Use manipulatives* like legos, scented markers, or whatever counters that will get your kids excited about doing the activity.ten frames with play dough

*Manipulatives are objects  designed so that a learner can perceive some mathematical concept by manipulating it. The use of manipulatives provides a way for children to learn concepts through developmentally appropriate hands-on experience.

To make ten frames lessons really fun, make your own play dough to place as markers on the ten frames! Kids can roll play dough balls to practice counting and even turn the play dough into the number itself!

Ask your child to solve math problems

Work with your child to create numbers and complete addition or subtraction tasks with the frames. Here are a few tasks you can try:

  • Number Value: Make the number 4.
  • Addition: Now add 3 more. What number is in the frame?
  • Number Value: Create a second frame with the number 6.
  • Subtraction: Remove 2 markers from the frame. What number is in the frame

Discuss the numbers

When using a ten frame for counting, it is important that kids grasp the 1:1 correspondence. For number identification, kids should practice instantly identifying how many dots are in a ten frame (again, this would be subitizing!). Discuss the numbers together to assess your child’s understanding of these concepts.

tens-frames-pic-1Ask your child the following questions:

  • How many pairs does it take to make the number 6?
  • Which frame has more? and Which frame has less? Why?
  • How many frames will it take to make the number 60?

It’s easy to start using this new way of teaching math in your home today. Start by creating your own ten frames on a dry erase board, or download pre-made ten frame templates & activities here.

Looking for more hands-on lessons? Check out this guide to hands-on learning activities.

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