Lesson Plan

Anchoring Numbers to Five and Ten


Students will gain greater understanding of how numbers are related and connected to one another. They will relate numbers to 5 and 10. Students will:

  • count with understanding and recognize “how many” are in sets of objects.
  • count, with and without objects, forward and backward to at least 20.
  • recognize that a number can be used to represent how many objects are in a set or to represent the position of an object in a sequence.
  • compose and decompose numbers up to 10 with objects and pictures.
  • develop understanding of the relative position and magnitude of whole numbers and of ordinal and cardinal numbers and their connections.
  • connect number words and numerals to the quantities they represent, using various physical models and representations.
  • read, write, and represent whole numbers from 0 to at least 31. (Representations may include numerals, pictures, real objects and picture graphs, spoken words, and manipulatives such as connecting cubes.)
  • compare quantities to 5 and 10.

Essential Questions

How can mathematics support effective communication?
How can patterns be used to describe relationships in mathematical situations?
How is mathematics used to quantify, compare, represent, and model numbers?
What does it mean to estimate or analyze numerical quantities?
What makes a tool and/or strategy appropriate for a given task?
When is it is appropriate to estimate versus calculate?
  • How do we know which number is larger (smaller)?
  • What happens when I take a group of numbers (objects) apart or put them together?


  • Greater Than: A number/quantity is larger than another.
  • Less Than: A number/quantity is smaller than another.


90–120 minutes

Prerequisite Skills

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Formative Assessment

Suggested Instructional Supports

  • View
    Scaffolding, Active Engagement, Modeling, Explicit Instruction
    W: Introduce students to a ten-frame and explain the concept of a set of ten. Generalize students’ observations about the frame, like the fact that it has two rows, there are five positions in each row, and it would be easy to notice if one item were missing from the frame. 
    H: Using a jar/baggie of bug-like counters will draw students into the lesson, but even nondescript counters will have students wondering how everything goes together with the ten-frames. 
    E: Engage students in the learning process by having them work with a partner on the bag of bugs and counting with ten-frame activities. 
    R: Visit students in their groups to help correct or redirect any misunderstandings. Review the concepts of counting and using a ten-frame with students who don’t seem to be grasping the purpose of the activity. 
    E: Bring students back into a large group and use the Tell Me Fast activity to assess whether students are able to read numbers from the ten-frame on sight by anchoring numbers to five and ten or whether additional instruction may be necessary. 
    T: The lesson can be tailored to meet the needs of your students by using the modifications suggested in the Extension section. 
    O: The lesson is designed to have students discover the ease with which they can identify the number of items in a group when the group is anchored to a number like five or ten. The ability to use a ten-frame will be beneficial in future mathematics learning. The main idea of this lesson is for students to learn how to use a five-frame, ten-frame, or counters to help organize and count objects. They then will move on to using the game Tell Me Fast, where a number is represented using dots in a ten-frame. These activities are repetitive and progressive based on readiness. They assist students in anchoring the numbers 1 to 10 using 5 and 10, while allowing exposure to numbers up to 20.  

Instructional Procedures

  • View

    Prepare a jar/baggie/bag with six to ten bugs. Backyard BugsTM and other counters like cubes, tiles, links, etc. may be used too. Use five-frames and fewer bugs if students are still working with numbers 0 to 5 only.

    Say, “We are going to be working with ten-frames and counters to help us organize and count bugs. Learning to count and organize items will help you see how numbers are related.”

    “A friend of mine loves bugs. She collects all sorts of bugs. My friend gave me some toy bugs to share with all of you. Here is my jar/baggie with the bugs she gave me.” (Show students the jar/baggie.) “How many bugs do you think are in my jar/baggie?” Preview the vocabulary word estimate. “Think about your number. Let’s see what some of you think.” Write student responses on the board. Ask a few students who are close to the number to explain their thinking.

    “Let’s take a look at the bugs in my jar/baggie/bag.” Dump the bugs in a pile and see if students want to change their answers or have something different to share. Do not spread the bugs out; leave them in a pile.

    “I need to count and see how many bugs I have. Does anyone have any ideas?” See if students have any ideas. Sample ideas from students may include counting the bugs by looking at them and saying a number or randomly counting the bugs.

    Suggest that this could possibly lead to counting some of the bugs more than once or missing some. Students may also suggest at this point moving the bugs away from the pile, forming a new pile as they count the bugs, or forming a line and then touching and counting the bugs in an organized way.

    Highlight good counting strategies. Ask children why they chose to count the bugs the way they did:

    • “Can you explain why you put the bugs in a line before you counted them?”
    • “Why did you move the bugs into a new pile as you counted them?”
    • “Many of you had some good ways to count. I’m going to show you a tool to help you keep track of items that you count. It is called a ten-frame.”

    Show students the ten-frame. “Does anyone have an idea of why it is called a ten-frame?” (It has ten boxes.) “Let’s all count the boxes together. One, two, three, ... ten.” Point to each box, starting with the top left box. Count as you move across the row until you have counted to five. Then continue with the second row counting from six to ten.

    Explain to students that only one counter can be placed in each box. Show them an example with one of the bugs from the jar/baggie. Start by filling the top row of 5, and then move to the bottom. (This will encourage students to use 5+ combinations.)

    “I’m going to place one bug in each box. Then we will count how many bugs we have in total in the jar/baggie.”

    Place all of the bugs on the ten-frame. “Let’s count the bugs. Touch each bug as the class counts it.

    “We found out that we had ___ bugs in the jar/baggie. Wow! That’s a lot of bugs.” You might want to revisit the estimates that students had at the beginning and talk about numbers that are larger/smaller than the number of bugs in your jar/baggie.

    “I’m going to show you how to write the number ___. Explain to students how you want them to write the number that was counted.

    “Now let’s practice it together. Place your finger in the air and let’s practice writing the number ___ together.”

    “Next, you and a partner are going to practice counting using a ten-frame and writing numbers.

    “I’m going to give each set of partners a bag with several bug counters inside. Partner 1 needs to reach into the bag and grab a handful of bugs. Place each bug in its own box on the ten-frame. Partner 2 will need to count the bugs and then write the number on the dry-erase board. After you both agree that the number has been written correctly, place all of the bugs back in the bag and erase the board. Then repeat the activity. Make sure you take turns pulling the bugs from the bag and writing the number of bugs on the board.

    Role play (with students taking turns with the bag and writing the number) prior to giving the bags out to all students.

    “I will be coming around to each group to see your work. If you have a question, quietly raise your hand.

    As students are working with their partner and the bags, visit with each pair, asking them to explain their thinking and correcting mistakes you see. You will be able to assess where students are in their learning from their answers to the questions you ask. Record the assessments you make for each student on Checklist 1 (M-K-1-3_Checklist 1.doc) as you move about the room. You will be able to correct misconceptions. Sample questions to ask students at various abilities and levels of readiness may include:

    • “Will you count for me how many bugs you have on your ten-frame?”
    • “Write the number ___ on your board.”
    • “Is your total number of bugs greater than or less than 5?”
    • “You have ___ bugs on your board. If I gave you one more bug, how many bugs would you have on your board?”
    • “You have ___ bugs on your board. If you gave me one bug, how many bugs would you have on your board?”
    • “You have ____ on your board. How many more than five is ____?”
    • “How many more bugs do you need to make ten?”
    • “Count forward/backward to five (or ten).”
    • “Which number is greater? Six or seven? How do you know?”

    After students are finished working with the bug counters and ten-frames, reassemble your class to close out the lesson.

    “We are going to play a game called Tell Me Fast. I will show you a ten-frame with dots on it. See if you can recognize how many dots are on the ten-frame. Keep the number in your head until I ask you to share it. Okay, here’s the ten-frame. Show a ten-frame to students for three seconds. Then cover the ten-frame so students can no longer see the ten-frame with dots. “Think about how many dots you saw on the ten-frame. Now whisper your answer to someone sitting near you (or write it on the whiteboard). On the count of three, I want you to whisper your answer to me. One, two, three…” Listen for student responses. Randomly select a few students to share the number they thought was on the ten-frame. If, for example, there were seven dots, you could ask: “_____, you said there were seven dots on the ten-frame. Can you explain your answer?” Listen to other strategies and highlight good thinking. Show the class the ten-frame again as students explain their thinking. Repeat with additional ten-frame cards with varying numbers of dots if you have time.

    Students will need many experiences with ten-frames in order to anchor numbers to five and ten. This can be done through routines, mini-lessons, small groups and/or workstations.


    • Routine 1: Ask students to count objects and sets used or seen during activities and book reading. Ask students to point to items and objects, expressing numbers in ordinal form. For example: “Can you point to the second (2nd) bug?” Also ask students to use ordinal numbers in their communication with you when it is appropriate. Emphasize the use of specific vocabulary words necessary to communicate number-sense concepts. Monitor student progress and responses, and allow students the opportunity to revise their work as ideas are clarified.
    • Routine 2: Use ten-frame cards as flashcards to build students’ math fluency.
    • Small Group 1: Writing Numerals Activity: Provide each student with a double ten-frame (M-K-1-3_Ten-Frame.doc) and a set of Numeral Outline Cards still attached on a single sheet (M-K-1-3_Numeral Outline Cards.doc). Prepare a jar/baggie or container with ten counters of any type. Have a student reach into the container and take out a random number of counters and spread them out on the table (or arrange them on a ten-frame instead). As a group, count the set aloud as the same student (or the teacher) points to each counter. Have students find the correct number on their Numeral Card sheet and trace the numeral several times with their finger, pencil, or crayon. Model writing the number for students in the first box of an enlarged ten-frame. Write the numeral a second time in the square below it. Have students write the numeral twice on their ten-frame and assist students who need help forming the numeral correctly. Repeat this process until you have practiced writing each numeral at least once.

    Note: After each student in the small group has had the opportunity to choose a handful of counters, you should take over and pull out handfuls equal to numerals that have not been selected yet, to ensure that all numerals are practiced.

    • Small Group 2: Building Sets Activity: Prepare a jar/baggie filled with Numeral Outline Cards based on student readiness. For example, use numbers from 1 to 5 or 5 to 10 (M-K-1-3_Numeral Outline Cards.doc). Use either five-frames or ten-frames, depending on the numeral cards in the jar/baggie (M-K-1-3_Ten-Frame.doc or M-K-1-3_Five-Frame.doc). You will also want to have out a large group of counters for students to use.

    Have one student pull a card from the jar/baggie and tell the other students the number. All students in the group place that many counters on their five-frame or ten-frame. Watch to see how students are placing the counters on the mat. Are they placing them left to right? Do they leave spaces? If so, take the opportunity to explain to students that there is more than one way to show the number. For example: If the number 6 is drawn, one student may fill the top row and the first box on the bottom row. Another student may fill in three boxes on the top row and three boxes on the bottom row. Use this opportunity to talk with students about representing numbers in more than one way.

    Instead of a jar/baggie, each child could have his/her own envelope with numeral cards. In this case, children would pull their own cards and build those numbers on their five-frames or ten-frames. When students appear ready, begin asking questions that make them think about one more or one less than the number, and also how many more or less than 5 or 10 their counters are. Students who can easily identify numbers 0 to 10 can be challenged with numbers 0 to 20.

    • Ten-Frame Memory Match: Create cards with ten-frames and matching number cards. Set all cards face down. Students take turns flipping two cards over to try to make a match. When students match a ten-frame picture card with the correct number card, they keep the match and go again. The person with the most matches at the end wins.
    • Large Group: Counting Jar/baggie Activity: Use a counting jar/baggie filled with manipulatives to estimate and count items on a five-frame, ten-frame, or double ten-frame. The counting jar/baggie could be filled with any type of counters: links, mini-erasers, cubes, etc. The number of items should be based on students’ readiness. Use the items in the counting jar/baggie in a similar way to how bug counters were used in the lesson. Students who can easily identify numbers 0 to 10 can be challenged with numbers 0 to 20 using double ten-frames.
    • Expansion 1: For students who show proficiency with counting to 20, extend the Counting Jar/baggie activity above by using 100 counters, and a hundreds chart (M-K-1-3_Hundreds Chart.doc). As in the bug-counting activity, students draw a handful of counters and place them on the squares of a hundreds chart. Have students count and record the number of counters on a whiteboard or piece of paper. After students record their numbers, all counters should be returned to the jar/baggie. Have students repeat the steps a specific number of times (three to five times) or for a specified amount of time (10 to 15 minutes).

    Note: A variation on this activity is to have students leave the counters on the hundreds chart from previous turns and add new counters on each turn until they reach 100. When counting, they would be counting up from the number they recorded on the previous turn.

    • Expansion 2: Tell Me Fast Activity: Show a ten-frame card to your students for three to five seconds and ask them to identify how many dots they saw. Ask students to tell a partner (or you) the number that is one more or one less than the number of dots on the ten-frame. To extend, have students tell a partner (or you) how many empty spaces there are or how many more are needed to make ten. Ask students to explain their thinking. Highlight good strategies to the entire class. Generally this game would be used for approximately 5 minutes at a time.
    • Workstation 1: Ten-Frame/Bag Activity: The ten-frame/bag activity from the main lesson could become a workstation. It could be differentiated by using a five-frame, ten-frame, or double ten-frame depending on the level of your students. You could also tailor it to student interests simply by changing the manipulative in each bag to reflect a different theme.
    • Workstation 2: Ten-Sided Number Cubes and Ten-Frame Match-Up Activity: This game can be played with one or more students. The game requires a ten-sided number cube (numbered 1 to 10) and sets of mini-ten-frames (M-K-1-3_Mini-Ten-Frame Cards.doc).

    Each player places a set of ten-frame cards face up on the floor or table. Player 1 rolls the number cube and finds the ten-frame card that has the same number as s/he just rolled. The card is turned faced down in a pile. Example: A student rolls a seven on the ten-sided number cube. S/he must then select the card that has seven dots on the mini-ten-frame and turn it over.

    Play continues with the next player. The first player to turn over all of his/her cards is the winner. If a player rolls a number and has already turned over the card, s/he loses a turn.

    If a student is playing alone, s/he tries to turn all of the cards over as quickly as possible by matching what is rolled on the ten-sided number cube.

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Final 4/18/14
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