Math on a Budget: Cheap 10 Frames for Manipulatives

So this idea isn’t originally mine but I thought it would definitely be worth sharing with new teachers who may not be in the know and teachers on a budget!

Using manipulatives in math is all the rage in early years as a way to help kids connect concrete concepts with the abstract ideas introduced in math. I love teaching with manipulatives because let’s face it math is much more fun when you can play with something! One of the tools early years teachers use is the 10 frame. The idea behind ten frames is to help students gain a clear understanding of place value by becoming familiar with units, 5s and 10s in a very concrete manner. Each small rectangle represents a unit and each row have 5 units in them, and finally the two rows put together give you 10 units. They are also great for helping students with their basic math facts, make 10 especially!

An Example Ten Frame with 6 Units in it

I have seen some teachers use laminated rectangles of 10 frames and have students put counters in each place. The problem with laminated 10 frames is that when the students try to move the paper or as young children do bump them with hands and elbows, the counters slide off and students have to start again. *Frustration*

In comes a rather elegant  and  cheap solution: The 10 Frame Egg Carton.

Below you can see: one manipulative per space = 1 unit. So we have 4 units below.

Next comes some magic: Once a 10 frame is filled, the student closes the egg carton and keeps the semi-filled one open. Visually this tells them they have 10 and need to count on the remaining units. Closing the egg cartons as they fill up will also help some students resist the urge to keep adding to already full cartons.

10 and 4 units = 14

A few reasons why I love this idea:

  • The great thing about using egg cartons for 10 frames is that students can pick their favourite manipulative and use it in math. (What I would have given to use those little plastic teddy bears in these pics!). I can just imagine a little boy with a jar full of cars using them in the 10 frames for math.
  • The cartons are pretty sturdy so they can withstand the little bumps that happen with our young students.
  • They are cheap and easily replaceable!

If you would like to try it… you need to do just like the egg producers in Canada say: “Get Cracking!”.

Thanks to  Taryn Deroche (@Taderoche) for her help with editing todays post!

All images are C.C. Mary Bertram

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