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Preschool Math: Learning Numbers with Ten Frame


This post includes a fun math idea using a ten frame. A few weeks ago, my husband came home from a business trip with an exciting surprise for our 3.5 year old: a bright pink, digital piggy bank. Every day since receiving it, our son has been sorting, counting and recounting the coins inside. {The “pretty pennies” are his favorite.}

Explore more early math activities here

Since I love creating learning activities based on things my boys love most, it was the perfect time to make ten frames my oldest could use to playfully practice the numbers 0 to 10.  {You can download your own free copy of the printable here.}

Learning Numbers with Ten Frames {Playdough to Plato guest posting on Carrots are Orange}

How We Played with our Ten Frame

To start, I gave my son a pile of his favorite coins. He stacked, rolled and designed pictures with the pennies for a few minutes. I knew that giving him time to play before starting our official work would help him stay focused during the activity later.

I laid down a few of the ten frames and asked what he noticed. “This one has 1, 2, 3 circles” he said. “Look! I can cover up the black with my penny!!”

Then, I invited him to pick one of the ten frames and cover the black circles with his pennies.  We counted along together as he worked. The first ten frame had nine pennies.  “How many spaces are left?” I asked.

He looked thoughtfully down at the card. “One!” he announced.

Then I handed him a new card and invited him to cover it with pennies too.  Each time he worked on another ten frame, I asked different mathematical questions. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Does this card have more or less than the card we just covered?
  • How many pennies are on top? How many are on bottom?
  • If I covered this black dot with my finger, how many pennies would you use?
  • How many more pennies would you need to make ten?
  • Let’s put the ten frames in order from biggest to smallest.

Learning with a Ten Frame

Ten frames are a simple, hands-on and visual way to help kids learn what numbers mean.  Once my son is able to answer the questions above on his own, I’ll start showing him the cards without pennies to give him practice quickly recognizing the numbers 0 to 10.

Are you ready to have your own mathematical fun with the kids? Click here to download your free copy of the printable.


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