Breaking and Making 10

Recommended Age: 4+ | Mathematical Topic: Early Arithmetic

What To Do

Play the following “ten finger” game with your child:

1 One person starts by showing some number of fingers on their own hand or hands. (Take turns who starts.)
2 The other person uses his or her own hand(s) to show how many fingers make exactly ten.
3 Count together to check.
4 Play several times, and talk about patterns (e.g., when lots of fingers are up, not many are down; or whenever 5 are up (no matter which 5), 5 are down).

What To Know

Young children need experiences that help them think about numbers flexibly, in terms of parts and wholes. Ten is a very important number in our number system, so spend lots of time “playing” with ten—breaking it into parts in different ways, and building it from different parts.

Moving On

When your child can quickly and consistently figure out how many more they need to make ten, move on to a new activity.

See it in action