Primary Math Games: Find the Ten

On my journey to write a first grade math curriculum that reflected my own math routines in my classroom, I knew it was important to include simple and powerful math games that would build number sense and fluency.  And I've been blogging about a few of those along the way in this Primary Math Game Series.

Today, we are looking at Find the Ten.

What Is Find the Ten?

Find the Ten is a game where kids do just that--find the ten.  They take two numbers and add them by decomposing the second number to make a 10.

In this game, students cut up 18 "domino" dot cards and place them in a stack.  They draw two cards and add the dots by finding and circling the ten and counting the left overs.

This is an example of the "end goal" for notation for this game.  Will all kids be using parentheses?  Probably not.  But when I model this through number talks and share time, I am modeling notation with parentheses and I always have kids that pick this up easily in first grade!

Some kids might do the same strategy as above and just notate without the parentheses.  And that's okay for now too.  Keep modeling the parentheses and they will pick it up when they are ready.

Why parentheses?  They show how the ten was built.  So that when you just use equations to solve you can see the decomposition progression.  For example...
5 + 9 = ?
(5 + 5) + 4 = 14

Now I can see how I decomposed the nine and use the associative property to combine the 5 and 5 to make 10.

If your kids need to see that carrot notation to show how the nine was decomposed, this notation is a little "lower" than the one I just showed.  Kids may need a written visual to show how the numbers are decomposed.  Once they fluently understand that, they will drop the carrot notation and do what we looked at in the images above.


Here is a look at what an even "lower" notation might look like.  Notice, the 10 group is still circled and then they are counting from 10.  Just an equation to match the problem is okay for these babies.  And when they are ready, they can progress their notation even further!

Why Is Find the Ten a Game My Kids Need?

Find the ten is a powerful visual way for kids to practice decomposing numbers to make a ten.  It helps move kids from robotically counting on to thinking about landmark numbers when adding.  It also is a stepping stone for helping kids add incrementally using our base 10 system.

How Can I Differentiate Find the Ten?

This game is super easy to differentiate just through the notation examples that I gave earlier.  But the activity can be differentiated too!

In this version, students abstractly decompose the numbers without the dots.  Use this with your kids who are not direct modeling and are more flexible in the strategies that they use!

This game and many more can be found in my Guided Math Workshop Curriculum plans and bundle (includes all the resources needed for the curriculum!)

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