M&M Ten Frames

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SWBAT represent numbers up to 50 using mathematical tools and language (tens).

Big Idea

Students create groups of 10 using ten frames in this M&M inspired lesson.

Setting Up the Learning

5 minutes

CCSS Context:

The concept of 10 is incredibly important to students' future understanding of math. Students in this lesson use concrete models (which are incredibly important when students are first exposed to a concept) to show how we could create a number using 10s. This supports the CCSS emphasis on students having a deep conceptual understanding of mathematical concepts. This lesson also exposes students to the ten frame, and focuses on how we use it, which is aligned to MP5, Use appropriate tools strategically.


Yesterday we made groups of ten M&Ms into fun size bags. We had to see how many bags of ten we had in our larger number.



Groups of tens are very important in numbers. Mathematicians use the words, “tens” and “ones” to describe groups of ten and left overs. We can use ten frames to help us look at full tens.



Your thinking job today is: How can I use ten frames to help me break large numbers into groups of ten? 


Opening Discussion

10 minutes

In this lesson, kids get acquainted with a mathematical tool they can use to represent 10, the ten frame. This is aligned to the Mathematical Practice standard, "Use appropriate tools strategically".

To help kids understand the ten frame, we will do a brief discussion on it to start out:

  • Let’s count how many boxes are in a ten frame. (S & T count chorally by ones)
  • I see there are 10 empty boxes in a ten frame. How many empty boxes are on the top? How about the bottom? 5 at the top, 5 at the bottom, what does 5 and 5 equal?
  • Let’s start counting from the bottom and count all of the boxes one more time. How many empty boxes do we have in total?

I'll then show kids how we can use the ten frame to make a group of 10. As I fill up ten frames, I'll ask some guiding questions:

  •  How many M&Ms are there in total on the ten frame? 10, are there any other spaces left in this ten frame? It is all full! We can call it a full ten. 
  • Now I am going to fill up another ten frame with M&Ms. How many M&Ms are in this ten frame? 10.
  • Partner Talk: If I put these ten frames together, how many M&Ms do I have?
  • Guiding Questions: Why can we count by 10s? How many M&Ms do we have? How many full tens do we have? If I count these by 1s, how many will I have?


I'll restates after discussion: I see that I have 20 candies. We have 2 groups of ten candies.


Now everyone is going to get 40 cubes that we will pretend are candies and some ten frames. Let’s read the problem together:

You have 40 M&Ms. You need to make fun size bags of 10 candies each. How many bags of M&Ms will you make?

Student Work Time and Share

20 minutes

Work Time:

I will have students work in partners to show 40. While students work, I'll look for the following strategies:

  • Students struggle to use the ten frame to help them understand the idea of 10. Push students to fill up one “bag” at a time. How many candies fit in each bag?
  • Students lay out the candies one by one onto the ten frames until they have filled up 3. Push Question: How can we use tens to help us count these cubes? Do we have to count them one at a time?
  • Students “just know” that there are 3 groups of 10. Push these students to explain how they know. They are probably using a counting strategy (10, 20, 30) and seeing that they counted by 10s 3 times.

Share Time:

I'll choose 2 strategies to share.


Guiding Questions:

  • How many bags of tens did we make?
  • How could we use tens to help us count these cubes? If we counted by 1s, would we get the same amount?
  • How do you know there are 10 in this bag? (Push them to use the structure of the ten frame for help )


Independent Practice

15 minutes

1. Students count the cubes in their pre-made bags of 10, 20, 30, 40 or 50.

2. Students show how they can group the cubes into tens.

3. Students cut out the ten frames to represent how they did it.

4. Students write how many tens.

(Repeat as many times as they have time for)

Group A: Intervention

Goals for this group: Students do 30, 20 and 10 again to help them reinforce the concept of 10 with lower numbers. These students need to work on 1-1 counting to 30, so that will be their primary goal. Then they will group the number into tens with ten frames.

Group B: Right on Track

Goals for this group:Students are able to use the cubes to make the groups of tens, but start to make generalizations. For example, they might say, we did 30, so I know there are 3 bags of 10 in there.

Group C: Extension

Goals for this group: I want to push this group to start using counting strategies. In other words, they are able to count by tens to figure out how many tens will be in the number.


See attached documents for independent practice pages!



10 minutes