Composing ten is a common and traditional way to develop number sense. It it used by many educators as a means to reinforce knowledge that numbers are made up of ones, and when grouped together, can make up ten. This is a foundational concept for understanding value and aides in the ability to do mental calculations, which are only some of the reasons why I choose a ten-frame approach to teaching counting to my [4-5’s class] preschoolers. It also is an effective visual tool.
In this activity, which takes place well after the children have become familiar with ten frame counting, we use the ten frame to compose, or add up to, ten.
- ten frame mat: five squares by two rows
- math counters of two different colors
- dice (numerals 5-10)
Invite your child to roll the dice and place the corresponding number of counters onto the ten frame. Then, ask how many more are needed to make ten. The dialogue may sound like this:Me: William, would you like to roll the dice? William rolls the dice and gets the number seven. Me: What number did you roll? William: Seven William counts out seven counters of the same color on his ten-frame. Me: Now, how many more counters do you need to compose, or make, ten? William counts to empty spaces on his ten-frame. William: Three Me: Ok, now you can add three counters [of the other color] to your ten-frame. How many do you have all together? William: Ten
This dialogue only needs to take place the first session or two this activity is introduced. After some practice, your child will be able to do this activity with minimal involvement from the supervising adult. My preschoolers love sharing this activity with a partner. One student will roll the dice and count the first set, and the partner will count the empty squares on the ten-frame and finish the task in composing ten. During the next round, the student roles reverse.
I’m Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home-mama of five! I’m the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught a range of levels, from preschool to college and a little bit of everything in between. Right now my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction.