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Ten Frame Addition

Alignments to Content Standards: K.OA.A.1



  • One 10-frame per pair of students (see example below)


  • Counters, 10 per pair of students
  • Decks of number cards 0-5 (with 4 of each number) or two 0-5 dice


This activity is done in pairs. The students sit side by side with 10-frame and deck of cards or dice. If they have cards, the cards are shuffled and placed face down in front of them.


Player 1 flips a card or rolls the die. They place that many counters on the 10-frame. Player 2 flips a card or rolls the die. They place that many more counters on the 10-frame next to the counters already on the ten frame. The students count the total together.

A recording sheet can be added when the students have been introduced to equations and number sentences. For those students who can handle higher numbers, a deck of 0-10 cards and two 10-frames can be used. 

This game can also be played alone.

IM Commentary

The purpose of this task is for students to practice adding numbers within ten and become familiar with the ten-frame. Make sure the students place the counter together on the ten frame, for example if a student rolled a ‘2’ and placed two counters on the left end and then another student rolled a ‘4’, you’d want those counters to be right next to the first counters placed, not on the other end of the frame. This will support the student beginning to recognize quantities on a ten frame. 

Children’s natural development of numbers progresses from the concrete to the abstract, from counting all (e.g. physically making four counters and then making twelve and counting all the counters to get sixteen), to counting on (e.g., counting four more starting at twelve to get to sixteen), to using part-whole (e.g. splitting apart the twelve to ten and two, and adding the two to four, then adding the ten) and relational thinking (knowing that 4 + 10 is 14 so 4 + 12 would be just two more).

This task supports students when they are at the beginning of the journy (in the concrete phase).