To put it very simply, a ten frame is a rectangle with 10 squares lined up side by side, 5 on the top row and 5 on the bottom. Each square represents 1, so the entire rectangle is equal to 10.

A ten frame is used to teach addition and subtraction up to the number 10, in a visual way. By using a ten frame, children will be able to complete the equation without actually counting. By remembering that there are always 5 squares on top and 5 on bottom, they will quickly be able to sum or subtract the correct number just by looking at the frame. Let’s take a closer look:

Let’s start by filling our ten frame up to 6:

By looking at this, kids can count the red circles and know that there are 6. In time, they will be able to look at it and know there are 6 simply because 5 (top row) plus 1 (bottom row) equals 6.

Let’s try 9:

Your child can count all 9 circles, or by remembering that the frame has 10 squares (total) minus 1 with no red circle equals 9.

You can also use 2 colours of chips to practice addition. Let’s use the equation 4+3.

By looking at the entire frame, they will know the answer is 7, because 7 out of 10 squares are filled. By using 2 different coloured chips, it adds another visual element to the equation.

You can start using ten frames in preschool to count up to 10. You can continue using 10 frames while learning basic addition or add a second ten frame when learning to count to 20.

Ten frames are a popular way to begin introducing numbers and developing number sense.