“Hey, friends,” I begin as we enter from lunch. “We have practiced with ten-frames for awhile. Today, we have a big ten-frame that will need to be filled with kindergartners!”
The kiddos sit in a really big circle around our meeting spot, and we count aloud as I direct students to stand in the ten-frame. I save the ends of the ten-frame for my super wiggly friends, as there’s a little more room on those “sides.” We do this twice, as we have 20 kids at school this afternoon. Everyone gets a chance to be in a ten-frame.
“What’s our number today?!” I say, part with regards for math instruction, and partly like I’m leading a pep rally.
“10!!” students exclaim.
“Yes!” I respond. “And today… with the exception of your visit with me, you get to choose your practice activities! Let’s check out all of your options!”
“You have TWO ‘must do’ activities,” I say, remembering back to when I taught preschool and we had “must do” and “choose to” activities. I love choice. Making choices is so empowering!
“One ‘must do’ is you must work with me at the teacher table and practice all about 10. I will even call you over to that one—so if you’re having the time of your life watercolor painting, you may need to be sure your name is on your watercolor 10 and then come over to see me for awhile. Okay?” I ask.
Students nod happily.
The other ‘must do’ activity is to build 10 on ten-frames. Hey! Ten on your ten-frames! What’s so special about that?!”
Now, before I can call on a kiddo who may or may not know what I’m asking about, one of my super bright students with limited self-control blurts, “All the squares are full!”
“Wait your turn next time, but you are absolutely right,” I state. “Just like we filled every section on our human ten-frame in our meeting spot, you will fill every section in your ten-frame!”
“Now, we miss our student teacher and our extra helpers, and I don’t want you sitting and waiting for me,” I say. “I gave each one of you a little piece of paper with your name on it, paper clipped to your cover page. When you get done with your mats, you will be able to put your name tag in the middle of your mats, and when I get done working with a group, I will call you over to meet me at your mats and count your 10s for me!”
“Yay!” students exclaim. They truly are the sweetest audience in the world. I need to clarify, though, because we are sweet, but easily distracted, and easily confused! I ask a series of quick, clarifying questions, including everything from “Do we need to do 10-frame counting?” to “What do we do when we’re done with our ten frames?” and everything in between. These questions seem silly to big people (or even older learners), but they are so helpful in kindergarten!
So let’s see what else we can choose. You must choose at least 4 activities besides working with me and building 10s on ten frames. You have seen all of these before, but let’s check them out right now.
“We have bumpy board 10s!” I declare with enthusiasm. “You will get a bumpy board, write your name, and get writing those numbers! Say the number quietly as you write it, okay? As you work your way up to 10, think about what would come next…” I suggest.
We walk over to another table, and we see the familiar, but well-loved watercolor numbers. I quickly demonstrate how to paint the dots inside the 10 to show the quantity and how to use a different color to paint the “background” around the dots. I make a special point to stress name writing on the 10s because the 10s will need to sit to dry somewhere, and it will be important to be able to make the 10 to its owner!
Ahh… Finger Paint 10's numbers are back! I demonstrate this activity, talking about our little “eraser towels” to erase the paint from our index finger when we switch colors. We go over all the main details on this activity, including the importance of making numbers and not blobs, the importance of cleaning our fingers between colors, and even pointing out the trash can we should use to dispose our paper towels.
Finally, Playdough 10 are the last choice activity for the day. I have the students “walk me through” what to do with this activity. They tell me each step, and when they forget something, I do as I am told, and we all get a good laugh. “We” make “snake numbers” and then make 10 cubes to fill the ten-frame. We even count the cubes!
After our walk-through, it seems as though we are all ready to go. Now, there’s a trick to this: I’m somewhat tethered to the All About 10 job and checking the ten frames on the floor, so it is challenging to be sure the kiddos are circulating well. One thing’s for sure: the students are busy, happy, and working on 10s!
After a 2-minute warning and a clean up, we talk about our activities. The students really enjoyed all the choices, and they seemed to want to complete all of them. So funny! A variety of “favorite activities” are mentioned, which lets me know that the kids seemed to appreciate the variety.
We talk for a moment about the little name labels on their ten-frames on the floor. I really want to know how the kiddos felt about this new change, because if it’s not working for them—or if it’s not working for me—we won’t continue. Their input really matters, and I am relieved to hear that they liked getting to begin a new activity, and they didn’t mind taking a short break to come over and count for me. Whew!
It felt like we had 10, 000 ways to practice 10, but in terms of productivity, we may have scored a 10 on this lesson! (Checking the student work will really confirm this early guess.)