- Egg carton, cardboard box or lid, ice cube tray, etc.
- Bottle cap, rocks, gems, seashells, toy cars, etc.
Note: Small parts pose a choking hazard and are not appropriate for children age five or under. Be sure to choose lesson materials that you feel are safe for your child and that you are comfortable letting your child use.
There’s a good chance that when your child starts kindergarten, he or she will begin learning math on what is known as a ten frame. So what is a ten frame?
A ten frame is a rectangle with 10 equal spaces. It has five spaces on the top and five on the bottom. Ten frames help children "see" numbers by providing an image of a number and its value. Ten frames teach children how to physically place items, each within a single "frame," to create a picture of what the numbers from 0-10 represent.
You can create your own ten frame to help boost your child's early math skills. We've used egg cartons, ice cube trays, tape in a cardboard box (to keep the countable objects contained) and chalk on the sidewalk, to name just a few. (With egg cartons or ice cube trays that have more than 10 sections, you will need to cut or tape off the extra sections.)
While your child is playing with the ten frame, you can help foster the development of counting skills by putting a countable object in each square of the frame and saying: “One, two, three, four, five—you have five buttons."
This activity may look like play, but it is helping to build a basic understanding of early math. Your child will begin to understand counting and what those numbers represent.
For younger preschoolers and toddlers, you can always start off with a five frame. If a child loves cars, use toy cars as countable objects. Did the children collect bottle caps today? Build a ten frame to help them count out how many bottle caps they've collected.
If an object attracts a child's attention, that's the moment when child-led learning begins. Take a walk around the neighborhood with your child, grab some sidewalk chalk and collect some treasures. Then draw a ten frame on the sidewalk with your chalk and place a "found treasure" in each square.
This fun and engaging activity will help your child practice early counting skills and gain a rudimentary understanding of one-to-one correspondence.
When the ten frames come out later in kindergarten, your child will not only recognize this early math tool, but get a welcome boost of confidence as he or she leads the rest of the room in a one-to-one counting activity!