Ten Frames Part 1: Number Sense

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

The focus in this post will be an introduction to ten frames and ways they can help your students gain number sense. Then stay tuned because ten frames can also be a great tool for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

Subitizing: This is the ability to recognize an amount without physically counting. Looking at the picture of red counters: If the top row is full, does the student automatically know there are 5? Doing a Number Talk is a great way to practice subitizing using a ten frame:

  • Use your own or pre-made dot cards. Flash the card for 1-2 seconds. Observe students. Are any of them trying to point and count? Or do they seem to know right away? Here’s a great video I recommend: KG Number Talk with ten frames
  • Tell students to put their thumb in front of their chest (quietly) to signal they know how many there are.
  • Ask a few students to name the amount.
  • Then ask this very important question, “How did you know?”
  • For the top picture you might hope a child says, “I knew there were 5 because when the top row is full, there are 5.”
  • For the bottom picture, you might hope for these types of responses: “I saw 4 (making a square) and 1 more.” or “I saw 3 and 2 more.” or “I pictured the 2 at the bottom moving up to the top row and filling it up, which is 5.”

The idea is to keep building on this.

  • What if I showed 4 in the top row? Can the student rationalize that it was almost 5? Do they see 2 and 2?
  • What if I showed 5 in the top row and 1 in the bottom row? Can the student think “5 and 1 more is 6?”

Here are some resources you might like to help with subitizing using ten frames.

Number Bonds: Using ten frames to illustrate number bonds assists students with composing and decomposing numbers. Students then see that a number can be more than a counted amount or a digit on a jersey or phone number. Here is an example of number bonds for 6:

  • 6 is 5 and 1 (or 1 and 5).
  • 6 is 4 and 2 (or 2 and 4).
  • 6 is 6 and 0 (or 0 and 6).
  • 6 is 3 and 3.

Teaching strategies for number bonds using ten frames:

  • Provide a blank ten frame to students along with some counters (beans, cubes, bears, cheerios, two sided counters, etc.).  State a number to count and place on their ten frame. This is a much better approach in my opinion than asking studens to randomly place counters on a blank mat (which is what Saxon advises in their KG counting lessons). Random placement means the student might easily miscount and the observing teacher cannot often tell at a glance if the student has the correct amount. OK – that’s my soapbox.
  • This method allows the teacher to readily determine if the student counted correctly. It also leads to helping students see there are different ways to represent this amount (number bonds).
  • The teacher can now ask students to show (and/or tell) their result. This is what the process standard of communication is all about! If most students show only 1 way, the teacher asks, “Now, can you show 6 in a different way?”
  • Use a blank ten frame as part of your daily math meeting time. Select a number of the day or number of the week. Show a way to make that amount. Connect with numbers such as:  2 and 2 is 4 (PreK or KG) or 2 + 2 = 4 (late KG, 1st and up)

Learning station ideas for subitizing and number bonds with ten frames:

  1. Match # cards to ten frames (use mini ten frames in resources above).
  2. Provide # cards, 3-4 blank ten frames, and counters. Student turns over a # card and uses counters to show different ways to make the same amount. This physical concrete method is recommended for preK and KG. As an extension for first or second graders, they can start with the concrete and then record their responses (pictorial method) on blank mini ten frame templates.
  3. Play with a partner:  Materials — one large blank ten frame per student, counters, set of # cards, and a screen between the 2 players. Turn over 1 number card that both can see. Each student makes that amount on their own ten frame (hidden from view from their partner by the screen). Then remove the screen and compare results.
  4. Put ten frame dot cards in order (least to greatest, or greatest to least).
  5. Play “war” with ready-made ten frame dot cards. Students start out with an equal stack of cards. Each student turns over 1, tells how many and determines who has more (or less).
  6. Play “Go Fish” with mini ten frame cards. This means you will need some cards that have different ways to show the same amount. I will be on the lookout for some!! If you know of some, please share your link.

Tell us how you use ten frames to build number sense!! Or if you try doing any of the above, what were the results?

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Have a great week!

Math Problem Solving Part 1: Join (aka Some and Some More)

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

I have 1 penny in one pocket. I have 6 more pennies in another pocket. This is a Join or “some and some more” story structure.

Many teachers I work with have asked for advice on problem solving in math. Students often don’t know how to approach them or know what operation to use. Should teachers help students focus on key words or not? What about the strategies such as CUBES, draw pictures, make a list, guess and check, work backwards, find a pattern?

While all of those strategies definitely have their purpose, I find  we often give kids so many steps to follow (underline this, circle this, highlight that, etc.) that they lose sight of what the problem is basically about.

In this post, I will focus on two basic questions (who and what) and a simple graphic organizer that will help students think about (and visualize) the actions in a one-step Join story problem. KG and first grade students can act out these actions using story mats or ten frames. Late first through 5th grade can use a part-part-whole box. There are two FREE items offered.  

These are the types of problems I will focus on in the next few posts.

  1. Join (also referred to as SSM – Some and Some More)
  2. Separate (also referred to as SSWA – Some, Some Went Away)
  3. Part-Part-Whole
  4. Comparing
  5. Equal groups

JOIN problems have 3 versions: 

  • a + b = ___     (The result is unknown.)
  • a + ____ = c   (How the story changed is unknown / missing addend.)
  •  ____ + b = c  (The start is unknown / missing addend.)

They can also be referred to as “Some and Some More” stories (SSM). This means, you have some and you get some more for a total amount. These present themselves as additive stories, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to add to solve them. The second and third version above are often referred to as missing addend problems. Continue reading

Daily Math Meeting Part 1: Ways to Build Number Sense K-5

To build number sense, students need frequent exposure or review of concepts you have previously introduced. There are many ways to build number sense on an on-going, informal basis – especially when you can squeeze in 10-15 minutes daily:daily-practice

  • During morning meeting time
  • During a Number Talks session
  • At the beginning of your math lesson
  • At the end of your math lesson
  • End of day closure time

I have included several of my power point slides on this topic as a PDF file (daily-practice-to-build-number-sense-pdf). Continue reading

Subitizing – What does that mean?

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady (updated post on 8-12-17)

The term “subitize” means to recognize quantity without counting. It is a concept recently added to the new OAS (Oklahoma Academic Standards). KG students should be able to “recognize without counting the quantity of a small group of objects in organized and random arrangements up to 10.” For first graders, the quantity is increased to 20 of “structured arrangements.” Subitizing is an important pre-requisite skill to learning addition and subtraction number combinations or number bonds.Subitize 4 (1)

Suggested items for the teacher to present this concept:

  • Dot cards
  • Ten frames and 2-color counters or tiles
  • Dot dice
  • Dominoes
  • Tally marks

Continue reading