Ten frames are possibly the most useful resource a teacher can use to help students understand numbers to 20, including addition and subtraction facts for these numbers.

Ten frames are a grid of 5x2 square which are the frame for counters which are placed on it in set patterns. Students learn to make and to "see" numbers by placing counters on them and recognizing these numbers when the patterns are printed on cards and "flashed" at them. This instant recall without counting is called subitizing. By subitizing numbers students begin to know the relationship between one number and another.

There are two different arrangements that are commonly used. Both are correct, both show different mathematical aspects of the same number.

the pairs arrangement (red counters). This arrangement shows that 7: is odd, is one more than 6, is 3 less than 10, is 2 and 5 more, is 4 and 3 more.
the rows arrangement (purple counters). This arrangement shows that 7: is 5 and 2 more, is 3 less than 10.

Both arrangements learned together allow for versatility in thinking skills which assists with later problem solving skills.

Once 1-10 is learned, then students progress to the numbers 11-20 or the double ten frame.

For more details on teaching with ten frames go to our free ten frame introduction course and receive some free worksheets.