My Messy Room - Organizing with a Ten Frame

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Students will be able to organize and count objects using a ten frame.

Big Idea

What student doesn't have a messy room? The messy room in this lesson familiarizes students with a ten frame. It organizes items for counting and allows them to build important understanding for skip counting by 5s and 10s.


10 minutes

For this lesson, you will need a copy of the book, My Messy Room, included as a PDF with this lesson.  I print the pages and laminate them.  I then bind the pages with a comb binder.  Book rings would also work well to bind the book.  The last page of the book includes toys that need to be cut out.  Place Velcro hooks on the backside.  At the bottom of each page of the book, put the fuzzy side of Velcro at the bottom of the page and one piece of fuzzy Velcro in each compartment on the shelf.

I gather the students around my big chair and I ask some questions to help activate prior knowledge.  I say to the students, raise your hand if your room has ever ben messy.  My goodness!  What do your parents say about your room?  This is an exciting topic for the students and they usually have a lot to say.  For this reason, I give them some time to turn to a neighbor and talk about their rooms.  I count backwards from three to refocus the students and end their conversations. 

I show them the cover of the book.  I say to them, the name of this story is My Messy Room. When I see the picture on the front of this book, I think…someone really needs to clean!   Let’s read the story and see if they can figure out how to clean it up.

I open to the first page of the book and I read, “My room is a mess.  Will you help me clean it up?”  The children shout YES!

I turn to the next page and read, “Let’s put the stuffed animals on the shelf.  I invite a student to come up and place the stuffed animals on the shelf.  I guide them to start on the top left side of the shelf. 

After the student has moved the items to the shelf, I read the bottom of the page and invite the students to count how many stuffed animals there are.  I carefully touch each toy and invite the students to count with me.

We continue reading the book in a similar fashion, inviting students to organize the toys and then counting them.  We read the last page of the book and I ask the students if the room looks different from when we started.  After some further discussion, I invite the students to move over to the SMARTBoard and continue with the lesson. 


15 minutes

For this portion of the lesson, I use my SMARTBoard.  If you have a SMARTBoard, the file can easily be downloaded and opened.  If you have a different type of interactive whiteboard, you can still use this lesson by opening the file in Smart Notebook Express.  There is also a PDF of the slides so you can recreate this part of the lesson.

I gather my students in front of the SMARTBoard.  I have cards with each student's name on.  These cards are used for selecting who will come up to the SMARTBoard.

I open the first slide (SMARTBoard Slide 1) with the lesson objective written in "student friendly" terms.  There is a content objective and a language objective to help focus on vocabulary expansion for my English Learners (ELs) to be congruent with SIOP instructional techniques.  I read these objectives aloud for my students.


Content Objective
I can count a group with up to ten items by arranging the items in a ten frame.  

Language Objective
I can tell a friend how many items are in a group by arranging and counting them.


Slide 2:  I can count this group, but it's not easy to do.  I go on to explain it is hard to tell where one car ends the next begins.

Slide 3: This is a ten frame.  Do you know why it's called a ten frame?  I give time for the students to think about what it might be called a ten frame.  I coax their answers if they are not on the right track.  How many spaces are there?  That’s right.  Ten.  Does it kind of look like a picture frame without anything in it?  That’s why it is called a ten frame.  A ten frame can help us count things.  It helps us organize items to count them.

Slide 4:  I can move the cars into the ten frame and that makes it easier to count.  I demonstrate how to move the cars into the ten frame by sliding them, making sure to start with the top left.

Slide 5:  Let's use the ten frame to count some more things!    We are going to move items into the ten frame.  If I call on you, you will take your finger and move the fish into the ten frame,  Make sure you start at the top left.  (Point toward the first square).  I then use my “picking cards” to call on a student to come up and move the objects.  After they are done, I invite another student to come up and count the fish, pointing to each one and then write the number of fish in the box.   

Slides 6 and 7:  Continue with these slides the same as slide 5.  Make sure to stress putting the object in the top left box to begin.

Slide 8:  It is now turn and talk time.  I say to the students, look at my ten frame.  It is very colorful.  I want to move the dogs into the ten frame.  If I am going to move the dogs into the ten frame, what color box does the first dog go into?  Don’t say it out loud.  Turn and talk with your neighbor.  I give them time to discuss their answers and then I call them back together.  I repeat the question, What color box does the first dog go into?  I call on a student to answer.  That’s right.  The first dog goes in the green box.  The first item always goes in the top left on a ten frame.  To build oral language skills, I have them repeat after me.  Can you say that with me.  The first item always goes in the top left on a ten frame.  I point to the top left box to reinforce this concept.  I then use the cards to call on a student to come up and move the dogs into the ten frame and another students to point and count the dogs for me.

After we complete the SMARTBoard lesson, I direct the students to return to their seats.

Guided Practice

5 minutes

You will need copies of the Ten Frame Activity sheet.  It is included as a PDF with this lesson and can be run front/back.  You will also need cups or bags of manipulatives counted out for each student.  I counted out the following for my students and placed them in paper Dixie cups that I reuse multiple times for my manipulatives

1 set of frogs per student:  7 per cup/student

1 set of bears:  9 per cup/student

1 set of 1” cubes:  3 per cup/student

1 set of pennies:  6 per cup/student

You can use any manipulative you would like for this activity, just alter the recording sheet to match.

I distribute the Ten Frame Activity sheet to each child.  I ask them to write their name at the top of the paper and to set their pencil down.  I tell the students, we are going to organize frogs on the ten frame so it is easier to count them.  I give each child a cup of frogs and instruct them not to touch them until I give them further instructions. 

I then say to the students, We will now put our frogs on the ten frame.  I need to remember to start in the top left corner.  Now take the frogs and put them in the ten frame.  I circulate around the room, making sure that the students are starting at the top of the ten frame.  After everyone has the frogs in the ten frame, I invite the students to count the number of frogs and write it in the box.  Again, I circulate among the students to make sure that they have counted the number of frogs correctly and offer assistance if it is needed.

If there is time, I demonstrate how to color the boxes in on the ten frame.  I show the students how I move a frog, color in the box, move a frog, color in the box, etc.  If you do not want to extend the lesson this long—this does take quite a bit of time-the students should still grasp the concept.

Independent Practice and Informal Assessment

10 minutes

I now allow the students to continue the activity on their own.  I collect the frogs and pass out the bears to the students.  I place trays with the other manipulatives in the front of the room.  As the students complete one section, they return the cup to the tray and take a cup with the next manipulatives.  This can be challenging as sometimes the students get the manipulatives mixed up with a neighbor’s, so I remind them to keep the manipulatives on their paper and to return only their manipulatives to their cups. 

As the students are working, I circulate through the room.  The video included with this lesson shows the students working independently on the activity.  I watch for errors in placement of the manipulatives or errors in counting, providing additional instruction as needed.  When students have completed their work, I check the activity sheet and have them place it in their mailbox.

For additional independent work you can print the Ten Frame Practice sheet included with this lesson.  Students roll a 10-sided die and use the eraser on the end of their pencils dipped in an ink pad to compete a ten frame to match the number rolled.