Counting Fun with Ten Frames: A hands-on math experiment for preschoolers

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Mathematics is an essential subject that plays a critical role in our daily lives. At an early age, children are introduced to math concepts that lay the foundation for their future learning.

One of the essential math skills that preschoolers need to learn is counting and number sense. Building a ten frame is an excellent math experiment for preschoolers to learn this essential math skill.

What is a ten frame?

A ten frame is a mathematical tool that helps young children understand the concept of numbers and counting. It consists of a rectangular grid of 10 squares, with each square representing one unit.

The ten frame is used to teach children how to visualize numbers and recognize them quickly.

Counting fun with a ten frame math experiment, showing children how to visualize and recognize numbers quickly

How to make the Counting Fun with Ten Frames math experiment

Supplies you will need

For this experiment, you will need the following:

Supplies for the Ten Frame math experiment

Before you start

It’s easiest to use painter’s tape on a hard floor, but this can also work on a carpet. If you do place the tape on the carpet, you will have to be more careful if your child wants to walk on the tape (it will bunch up easier).


Here are the steps to follow when building a ten frame with preschoolers:

Step 1: Create the Ten Frame

How to make a ten frame with painter’s tape

Create a rectangle with ten squares on the floor using painter’s tape. Those ten squares should be the same size and big enough to fit the objects you collected from around the house.

Get your preschooler involved: If your child is able to, have them help you create the ten frame on the floor with the tape. Also, have your child pick out the items that we will add to the ten frame.

Step 2: Introduce the Ten Frame

Introduce the ten frame to your preschoolers and explain what it is and how it works.

It doesn’t take much to introduce a ten-frame! It can be as simple as telling your child it’s an easy way for us to count objects.

Step 3: Add the Small Objects

Adding objects into your ten frame to easily count them

Place your small household objects in the ten frame. Encourage your little one to count the objects and identify the number that the objects represent.

Get your preschooler involved: If your preschooler is comfortable with using a ten frame, allow them to start placing the objects and counting themselves. If not, you may have to help a little at first to get them comfortable.

Step 4: Play with the Ten Frame

Use the ten frame to play counting games with your child.

For example, you can ask them to add or remove objects from the ten frame and count the objects as they do so. You can also ask them to identify the number represented by the objects on the ten frame.

Get your preschooler involved: Again, let them lead here if they are comfortable with the ten frame. If they are new to ten frames, you may have to help.

The math behind the Counting Fun with Ten Frames math experiment

This experiment teaches:

  • Counting and number recognition
  • Visualizing numbers
  • Hands-on learning experience

How it works

A ten frame makes it easier to count objects by associating one object to each square inside of the ten frame.

Counting and number recognition

By placing small objects on the ten frame and counting them, preschoolers can learn to recognize and understand the concept of numbers. They will also develop their counting skills and be able to identify the numbers represented by the objects on the ten frame.

A ten frame is also a great way to teach one-to-one correspondence. By showing each square representing just one number, it helps your child by assigning one square to one number while counting in a sequence.

Visualizing numbers

The ten frame provides a visual representation of numbers, making it easier for preschoolers to understand and recognize numbers quickly. By using the ten frame, preschoolers can learn to visualize numbers and develop their spatial reasoning skills.

Hands-on learning experience

Building a ten frame is a hands-on learning activity that engages preschoolers and makes learning enjoyable.

It also makes learning math a little more fun when it’s turned into a game, which is exactly what this experiment is about!

More math experiments about counting and numbers to try out with your child

FAQ about the Counting Fun with Ten Frames math experiment

How can you use a ten frame to do a math equation?

A ten frame is a great way to teach basic addition and subtraction to your preschooler. You could start with 10 – 6 = __, knowing that the ten frame has ten squares in it. Color in 6 of those squares and ask how many are left.

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