Combinations of 10 Lesson 3

  • Combinations That Make 10

    Lesson 3 of 4
    Kindergarten and 1st grade

    45-60 minutes


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


    For each student:


    ELL Accommodations: Teachers will need to frontload vocabulary.(combinations, number sentence, pair, equations, commutative property)

    Gather the students in a common area such as on the rug in front of you. Show them one of the Large Ten Frame Cards (see Materials section above) and ask how many dots they see. Be sure they raise their hand or give another signal to indicate they know the answer without shouting it out. Call on a student and when they give their answer ask how they know that is the correct answer. Call on several students to "share their thinking". Listen for different strategies. If you show nine on the ten-frame you may hear, ["I see five and four more" or "I see ten take away one".] Be sure to display several different ten-frame cards.


    Shake It and Make It:
    Materials: Two-sided counters, ten-frame, Shake It and Make It recording sheet
    Have students put 10 two-sided counters in a cup. They will shake the cup and drop the counters. They will then arrange the counters on a ten-frame first with one color and then the other color.

    10 counters arranged in a 10 frame

    Have them record their combinations on the Shake It and Make It Recording Sheet. The students need to draw the counters and record the number sentence representing the model.

    Give time for the students to record their responses and then have them share their number sentences as you record them on a chart. This would be an opportunity to discuss the commutative property. Ask the following questions:

    1. What have you noticed about the equations on the chart? [MP7]
    2. How do we know we have found all the possible combinations of 10? [MP7]
    3. How does a ten-frame help you to understand combinations of 10? [MP4]

    The students can then practice combinations of 10 through the game Ten-Frame Go Fish.

    Ten-Frame Go Fish
    Materials: Deck of Ten-Frame Cards (four of each number)
    Students can play in groups of 2 to 4. The object of the game is to get two ten-frame cards that total 10.
    Each player is dealt five ten-frame cards. The rest of the ten-frame cards are placed face down in the center of the table. Players check to see if they have any pairs that total 10 and put them down in front of them and replace those cards with cards from the deck.
    Take turns. On a turn, the student may ask one player for a ten-frame card that will go with a ten-frame card in their hand to make 10. If they get a ten-frame card that makes 10, put the pair of ten-frame cards down in front of them. Take one ten-frame card from the deck to keep 5 in your hand. Your turn is over.
    If you do not get a card that makes 10, take the top card from the deck. Your turn is over.
    If the card you take from the deck makes 10 with a card in your hand, put the pair down and take another card.
    If there are no cards left in your hand but still cards in the deck, you take two cards.
    The game is over when there are no more ten-frame cards. At the end of the game, make a list of the combinations you made in your math journal.

    Differentiation: You could use playing cards instead of tens frame cards. You would need to remove the King and Queen from a deck of cards. The Ace would be a 1 and the Jack would be 0. This would “push the thinking” as they would begin to focus on the numerical combinations.


    Have the students come back to the gathering area and discuss the combinations they found in the game Ten-Frame Go Fish. Ask them debriefing questions such as:

    What combinations did you find in the game?
    How did you know which card you needed?


    Exit Ticket and the Exit Ticket Answer Key are downloadable in the Materials section. Ask the students to write all the combinations of 10 using an equation.

    Accommodation: A student may need to use a ten frame and counters to support their work.


    Have the students make an origami cup to use in Shake It and Make It. These are simple to make and will integrate geometry in the lesson. Download the Origami Cup Diagram from the Materials section above

    Snap It: Have the students work in pairs for this activity. Each pair will need one tower of 10 cubes. One student puts the tower behind their back and breaks it. They show one part of the tower to the partner. The partner then has to state how many cubes are behind their partner’s back. Students can use the ten-frame as a tool to support their learning.  The student will then show the cubes behind their back to check the answer. The students then switch roles. Give students several minutes to practice the combinations of 10. This is an activity that you can play often to help the students become fluent with combinations of 10.

    Teacher Reflection

    • Which combinations of 10 were students familiar with when the lesson began?
    • Were all students able to discover all the combinations of 10? If not, which combinations caused them trouble? What practice is needed for those who cannot identify them?
    • Were they able to make the model on the ten-frame with counters? Did it match the one recorded? Did the number sentence match the model?
    • What adjustments will I make the next time I teach this lesson?

    Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

    Related Material

    Ten-Frame Game: Activity 2: Build

    Illuminations Interactive

    Other Lessons in This Activity

    Lesson 1 of 4

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

    Lesson 2 of 4

    Use cubes to model combinations of ten; explore the different addend pairs, and play a card 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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  • Essential Question(s)

    • What do you notice about combinations of ten?
    • How can knowing combinations of 10 help you with addition and subtraction?
    • How do you know if you have all the combinations of ten?


    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.
    • Build procedural fluency from conceptual understanding.