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The Power of Making Tens

Hello! This is Greg from Mr Elementary Math and I am excited to be taking part in the first I Teach linky series.  I wanted to talk about one of my favorite math strategies “Making Tens”.   Making Tens is such a powerful strategy because it reinforces relationships between numbers. When young students develop a sense of ten-ness, they are better able to make connections with numbers and perform mental math with ease.  So you may be asking, what is ten-ness? This is not to be confused with tennis : )

Why is Developing Ten-ness Important?

Since we use the base 10 system in the United States, the concept of ten-ness can be thought of as the foundation of place value. When students are able to compose and decompose numbers into tens, they can better manipulate numbers mentally. It does not matter how large or small the number, they can still apply this concept.What Tools Can I Use To Help Students Develop Ten-ness?

One effective tool to assist students in making tens is the Ten Frame.  These are so easy to make and cost zero dollars! All you need is a piece of paper and a marker.
Ten frames help students visualize the smaller numbers inside a larger number making it easier for kids to compose and decompose.  Also, once students move onto using Double Ten Frames or a Twenty Frame, they can “see” the ten when two or more numbers are added together.  A ten-frame helps students visually move dots (or other objects) in order to make problems easier to work with.  For example, if students add 9 + 3 using a Twenty Frame it helps them see that this is the same as 10 + 2.  This will later help students when adding larger numbers mentally, like 39 + 4 is the same as
40 + 3.
What Types of Activities Help Students Develop Ten-ness?

There are numerous activities that your students can do to increase their “ten-ness”.   I wanted to share one with you that deals specifically with adding 3 numbers using a Double Ten Frame.  The game is called Find the Ten Within.

How Do You Play?

  • Pair students together
  • Roll three dice or number cubes
  • Place color counters on the game board to represent the rolled numbers. For example, if you roll 5, 2 & 6.  Allow the students to use two sided counters to show those numbers on the double ten frame.
  • Keep track of the rolls by coloring in the ten frame on the recording sheet
  • Fill in the boxes to complete the equations on the recording sheet. The number sentences  should reflect what was rolled and what was colored in on the double ten frame.

Materials Needed:

  • 3 Number cubes or dice (with the numbers 1 – 6 on them)
  • Two – color counters
  • Recording  sheet
  • Two different color crayons (preferably the same colors as the counters)

This is a simple yet fun activity to help students visualize relationships between numbers and is a precursor to place value.  Click here to download the free template.

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