Ten Frames Games Through The Year

Ten frames are a great visual math tool that helps our students develop important number concepts.  But ten frames are also something that we work with all year long so it can be challenging to keep them fun, fresh and engaging (AND SIMPLE for the teachers!)!  So, Mr. Greg, how do you keep your ten frames games fun and fresh?  And Mr, Greg, why do we need to use ten frames in our classrooms?  Well, I have some answers!

Why do we need to use ten frames games in our classrooms?

First, ten frames give our students concrete and visual representation of numbers.  Ten frames allow our students to “SEE” the numbers.  This gives students a strong understanding of numbers being made of tens and ones.  This allows us to work with place value.  Students can also see concepts such as more and less.  When they see 6 on a ten frame, the can see that 6 is one more than 5 and 4 less than 10.  These concepts help our students be better with their number facts and not just better counters.  The skills we learn with ten frames allows us to be problem solvers when working with bigger numbers!

How do you keep your ten frames games engaging all year long?

Here’s the beauty of teaching early childhood, our 5-year-olds find everything exciting and they don’t require big, flashy, over the top transformations to be engaged.  True story.  The brain loves novelty and so we can use a few simple tricks to keep our ten frames games engaging all year and not really have to do much work.  I mean, what teacher doesn’t want to keep things simple and engaging!   So, you wanna know my secret for keeping ten frames engaging all year?


True story.  One trick I have learned that always works with my students is to take a skill or strategy or activity that we do repeatedly and supersize it and that engagement goes sky high.  So, if our kids love giant things, why not give them giant ten frames?

ANd it’s so easy.  Simply use 12×18 construction paper to make giant ten frames.   In my class, I have several sets of these made and laminated so they’re always ready to go.  Another little trick to keep it fresh, use different colors of construction paper!

counting with ten frames using ten frames games all year

Now you need some counters.  Counters can really be anything you have.  Erasers, cubes, etc.  BUT I started trying to make some fun monthly giant ten frames games with things I found at Hobby Lobby or Michaels!   I ALWAYS buy things on sale or on clearance so these cost me less than $8.    I put the counters/objects and number cards with the ten frames.  Students choose a card, build the number on the frame, and record the ten frames on the recording sheet!  And when it’s time for a new ten frames game, I can just take out the objects and number cards and put in new ones!

Christmas ornaments

ten frame

Disco balls from the Christmas section in Hobby Lobby

Easter eggs!

counting with ten frames

Football ornaments from Hobby Lobby

math centers

 Shamrock ornaments from Michaels

ten frames games

 Heart ornaments from Michaels.

 Christmas bows!

Basketball ornaments from Hobby Lobby!

These skeletons are from a skeleton garland from the Dollar Tree!   I just cut the skeleton apart.

Sparkly spiders from Dollar Tree.  And yes the glitter is messy but that’s why we love them!  Everything is better with sparkles!

Ya’ll, seriously.  Hit the stores the day after Christmas and stock up on ornaments!  Seriously.  Balloon animal ornaments…snowman ornaments!  And more!

Now, here is my newest trick for giant ten frames:  Velcro dots.  This means the kids aren’t worried about the ornaments and counters moving and rolling!   The Velcro makes this so much easier to use and manage!

These St. Patrick’s Day hats are also a garland from the Dollar Tree.  Just the cut garland apart!

Adapting This For Home Learning

To use this idea at home, you can make a ten frame on paper, poster board, cardboard, etc.  Simply draw ten boxes.  If you make two of these, your child can count to 20.

After you make the ten frames, you can use ANY OBJECTS to count to 20.   Gather 20 items (or a few more than 20 to make it challenging).  Give your child a number from 1-20 and have them count to that number by placing the correct number of objects on the paper.

Suggestions for items to use:  toys, Legos, spoons, cans of food, plastic cups, bowls, etc.

Need more ten frames for your class?  Grab our Ten Frame Cards Bundle and get ten frame cards for the entire year!

For more fun ten frames fun, check out these posts:

For more ten frames resources, check out these creations:


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