7 Interesting Ten-Frame Manipulatives Ideas

Schooling and academics can often be intriguing with the implementation of activities, games, and manipulatives with pedagogies. The same can be the case with Math too. Comprehending such notions often relies on realizing their logical and reasoning-based aspects. Accordingly, several aids, tools, and combinations of Manipulatives like Ten Frames can be included with math-based lessons,  assisting young learners in grasping the essential mathematics concepts. Further, these manipulatives may assist in enhancing mental skills and logic. Consequently, here we look into some Ten Frame Manipulatives that can be applied effortlessly.

Ten Frame Manipulative: Ameliorating the essence of numbers! 

The Ten-Frames are composed of two-by-five rectangular frames into which students can place objects like counters to represent numbers less than or equal to ten. They’re a standard teaching tool for LKS1 Math learners and are often used to develop children’s number concepts in the context of the number ten.

Providing an assisting space to reckon numbers, instructors can employ ten frames to preach math to little ones. The young learners can either mark the grids facilitating to count them later. 

 Assisting in number sense, it upgrades intuition about figures and their operation-based functions. These manipulatives assist little learners to grasp counting and thereby comprehend basic operations like addition and subtraction. Most importantly, these ensure kids upgrade skills in mental math reasoning and instantly figure out the quantity of the items. These rectangular frames apply for multi-use and offer various functions through different classroom activities. And what’s more, children may use the knowledge obtained from the ten frame management when increasing their counting to a wider range of significant numbers, too.

Ten frame system- Manipulative picks to learn effortlessly!

Ten frames manipulatives can ease out discerning numbers at a tender age as these are easy to employ and practice. Here  we look into some handpicks that you can easily avail to start with instantly:

1. Chess board 

 Chess board 

Being a well-known game for improving cognitions, this game can be a noteworthy manipulator to preach many notions of math. That being the case, employing this in ten frames pedagogy can be a wise idea. As the board has 64 grids in black and white, 10 of them can be chosen for ten frame practice. To start with, the instructor needs to mark out 10 grids with a marker to define the area to practice. Now the student can use the pawn of the game as the counters in the grids. The alternative black and white design make counting easier for early learners, as these can aid in identifying the number of occupied grids effortlessly.  

2. Decks in Row

Decks in Row

Ten frame system is often about placing manipulatives in two rows of max five in each. The same logic can be applied with decks. All sorts of decks have varying numbers on one side, while the other side are all the same.  Thus, flipping the decks and using them as counters can be an enticing idea. Say, the little one has to count 5+ 2; they can place 5 cards in the first row, and then 2 cards in the second row. Now, they can count the cards and get an answer as 7. Using Decks can ensure multiple edges, Firstly, the sharp sides make it facile to position them in places. Nevertheless, the instructor can draw a ten frame with a chalk piece or marker to place the cards. Secondly, they are easy to carry, thereby ensuring additional practice. 

3. Cube Legos 

Legos are one of the few kinesthetic games that let the young ones build something meaningful. With a Lego building frame and ten lego cubes in contrasting colors can ensure engrossing ten-frame practice. A piece of lego can effortlessly sit anywhere on the frame, the student can start adding cubes from one corner as they start counting. A few tips can ameliorate the experience:

  • The lego frame and the cubes must be distinguishable. Accordingly, opting them in contrasting colors can work
  • While Lego frames of any size can be used, to make it custom-tailored for the ten frame, the instructor may procure such a size where ten cubes can fit without spaces. 

4. Cookies and Cups

Cookies and cups

Setting up a ten frame with cups may be another noteworthy manipulative. All you need to have is 10 cups and 10 cookies. To start with, the parent or an instructor arranges ten cups in two rows- 5 in each. These will act as the ten frames. Now the little one can put cookies in the cups to count them later.  If the query is 3+4, the child can place three and then four cookies in the first seven cups and then count it to answer ‘7’. Involving cookies and cups, these manipulatives can be turned out as a noteworthy dinner-time activity. Moreover, smooth pebbles can be used instead of cookies to ensure longer practice.

5. Graphing Papers

Graph papers come with varying sizes of grids, making it a befitting manipulative to learn ten frames. To start with, the instructor draws an outline to mark the ten grids for practice. The learner can draw their favorite shapes in each grid to count them later. Considering the previous example, to solve 3+4, the little one may choose circles to draw in the grids and reckon them to answer ‘7’.  The benefit with a graph sheet is the flexibility of the grid size. The teacher can take up bigger grids if the students like. 

6. Learning tiles

Learning tiles

Tiles are often employed to preach alphabets and numbers in schools. Students may arrange these tiles to form a sequence of alphabets as an activity. These manipulatives can also be implemented for ten frame notions. The instructor offers 10 tiles to the student to practice. The learner can place these tiles in sequence while they practice. For instance, 4+2 can be depicted as 5 tiles in one row and 1 tile in the second row. Now the little one can count them to answer “6”. Procuring tiles with the same alphabet or symbol can ameliorate the experience, as it avoids ambiguity. 

7. Ten frame Dices 

 Ten frame Dices 

These can be employed for learning in ten frames too. Firstly, rolling a couple of dice can give a random question to solve. For instance, one dice showing 3 and another showing 5, 5+3 can be counter to give rise to 8. Further, dice can be used to arrange in rows forming a ten frame. 

Instructors can also procure a ten frame math dice set, that comes with numbers in a ten-frame format, ensuring better practice. These dice come with numbers greater than 10 in a couple of frames to facilitate discerning larger numbers too. 


The ten frames are simple but improved mathematics manipulative, especially with two-sided and two-color counters. The two colors help to focus students on mathematics aspects and understanding. When taught from kindergarten and preschools, these manipulative learning-based activities help young learners grasp the literacy of mathematical knowledge. The promotion and increased application of Ten frame manipulatives attracted many teachers’ attention and allowed students to apprehend math logically and interactively. Accordingly,  traverse through the above-mentioned easily available manipulatives that can make ten frame learning further enticing for your little one.

Leave a Comment