I love ten frames. They help students build a number sense around the number ten. Through use of the ten frame, students begin to view numbers in terms of the relationship to ten. A full ten frame is automatically ten and when any of the dots are missing, it will be less than ten. They are great for building a student’s confidence in mental math.
I also use 5 as a benchmark. I teach students to recognize that there are five whenever the top row is full. They are then able to count on from 5 without counting each dot.
Although ten frames work wonderfully for many students, sometimes just using the ten frame on paper is not enough. I have had several students who needed to fill a ten frame with actual objects. I first tried using a ten frame on paper and having the students place manipulatives within each square. However, the concept still did not seem to click for them. They needed an actual ten frame that they could pick up and that would only hold one object in each box.
I needed something cheap and accessible. I came up with using an egg carton. I cut off two of the cups and the top and I had and instant ten frame. I spray painted or painted mine, so they were more exciting.