Combinations of 10 Lesson 2

  • Making Tens with Mac and Cheese

    Lesson 2 of 4
    Kindergarten and 1st grade

    45-60 minutes


    Use cubes to model combinations of ten; explore the different addend pairs, and play a card game to apply their understanding.


    For each student:

    • Making Ten Frames
    • Each pair of students will need two sets of 10 connecting cubes. Each set should be a different color.
    • Playing cards with 10s and face cards removed.
    • Student Data Chart


    ELL Accommodations: Teachers will need to frontload vocabulary. (addend, sum, combination, array, number sentence, arrangement, represent)


    To begin the lesson, use 10 connecting cubes of the same color (example below- red), model the number 10 by making 2 towers of 5. Ask students, "How many cubes are there"? [10.] How many red cubes are there? [10.]. "Can you tell me how you know there are 10 cubes?" [Sample answer: "I see 5 and 5 and that makes 10."]

    connecting tubes

    Then introduce a second color (blue). Tell the class you are replacing 3 red cubes with 3 blue cubes as you make the change. Ask, "How many red cubes are there now?" [7]. "How do you know?" [Sample answer: "I know that 10 -3=7 so 7 red."]

    Ask, "How many blue cubes? [3.] How many total cubes?" [10]. "How do you know there are 10 in all?" [Answers will vary.] [MP4]

    connecting tubes

    Display the Making Tens Activity Sheet. Mark the ten-frame with "R" and "B" to show the placement of the blocks you just arranged. Write 8 + 2 = 10 on the line beneath the 10 frame. Demonstrate how the ten-frame could be turned 90 degrees to represent the same combination of blocks. Repeat the activity with another combination of addends to 10. [MP7]

    ten-frame turned 90 degrees


    Distribute the snapping cubes and the Making Ten Frames Activity Sheet. Explain to students that they will be making different arrangements of the two colors of cubes that add to 10. The students can use the activity sheet as a template for arranging the cubes in 2 columns. They will write an equation beneath each arrangement. Refer back to the teacher example if necessary. [MP7]

    Accommodation: Students that need more examples can stay with the teacher.

    Observe students as they begin working, and ask them how they know they have different combinations of 10. Be aware of students who might be using an incorrect total number of cubes. If a student asks for another activity sheet, have him or her check the number sentences to see if any addends were repeated. If this occurs, it is a good opportunity to point out that, for example, 7 + 3 has the same sum as 3 + 7. Note that all combinations in this activity will inherently have the same sum. Because students are using different colored cubes, expecting students to show the commutative aspect of the combinations would be a strength for this activity. [MP7]


    When students are finished, have them share their ten frames with the rest of the class. Some students might not have all of the same color cubes touching, or might alternate colors. Have students discuss whether these models represent the number sentences in the same way as those that show the cubes touching. Ask students how they know it is the same or why they think it is not. Discuss the different methods students are using, why they are or are not viable, etc. If no student has used 0 as an addend, ask students how they would represent the original arrangement of 10 red cubes.[MP4]

    Making Tens Concentration:
    Students play the card game Making Tens Concentration to practice identifying addends that sum to 10. To play, groups of 2 to 4 players need a deck of cards with the 10s and face cards removed. The players make a 2 × 5 array of the playing cards, with the numbers face down. Extra cards are placed in a pile to replace those that are removed during play. The first player flips over 2 cards from the array. If the sum is not 10, the 2 cards are replaced face-down into the array and the next player takes a turn. If the sum is 10, the player keeps the 2 cards, replaces them with cards from the extra card pile, and turns over 2 more cards in the array. Players continue to play, filling the array with extra cards until 1 player possesses all addend pairs of 10. That player is the winner.

    Differentiation: If students find combining cards and identifying sums difficult have them model the addition using linking cubes.


    As the students are playing the game, circulate and look for how each child is making a combination of ten. Use the Student Data Chart (downloadable from Materials section above) to record your observations. This chart can be used throughout these lessons to know which students need extra help and also the students that need enrichment.



    Double ten-frames could be used to find combinations of numbers to 20.

    Teacher Reflection

    • How many combinations were students able to make with the sum of 10?
    • What students struggled with the combinations of 10? Do they need more practice with other tool such as rekenreks to help the conceptual understanding of making tens?

    Accommodation: Students who struggle and need more practice (tier 3 instruction) might benefit from the kindergarten ARC, "Counting Strategies to 10".

    Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

    Related Material

    Ten-Frame Game: Activity 1: How Many?

    Illuminations Interactive

    Other Lessons in This Activity

    Lesson 1 of 4

    Using macaroni, students model combinations through 10 and record a written expression.

    Lesson 3 of 4

    Students use ten-frames to model combinations of ten. They explore the different addend pairs, and play a game to apply their understanding.

    Lesson 4 of 4

    Students explore multiple ways to make ten with tens frames and drawings, with a final project of a class book.

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      The title at the top reads Making Tens with Mac and Cheese however it should say....
      Making Tens: Finding Addends with Sums to Ten

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  • Essential Question(s)

    • What mental strategy are you using when making combinations of 10?


    CCSS, Content Standards to specific grade/standard

    • 1.OA.C.2 Add and subtract within 20, demonstrating fluency for addition and subtraction within 10. Use strategies such as counting on; making ten (e.g., 8 + 6 = 8 + 2 + 4 = 10 + 4 = 14); decomposing a number leading to a ten (e.g., 13 – 4 = 13 – 3 – 1 = 10 – 1 = 9); using the relationship between addition and subtraction (e.g., knowing that 8 + 4 = 12, one knows 12 – 8 = 4); and creating equivalent but easier or known sums (e.g., adding 6 + 7 by creating the known equivalent 6 + 6 + 1 = 12 + 1 = 13).
    • K.OA.A.4 For any number from 1 to 9, find the number that makes 10 when added to the given number, e.g., by using objects or drawings, and record the answer with a drawing or equation.

    CCSS, Standards for Mathematical Practices

    • SMP 4 Model with mathematics.
    • SMP 7 Look for and make use of structure.

    PtA, highlighted Effective Teaching Practice and/or Guiding Principle CCSS

    • Use and connect mathematical representations.