Making First Grade FANTASTIC

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Make 10

I read this post last night that Babbling Abby of The Inspired Apple wrote.  I just had to share...

I HATED math when I was in school.  I struggled through my high school algebra and geometry classes.  And'get about it!  It wasn't until I was taking my math methods classes in college, that I really began to understand math and fell in love with teaching math.  More specifically, early elementary math.

Call me crazy and zaney and absolutely nutty, but I really do enjoy teaching math to little ones.  Part of the reason I love it so much--we use Investigations math.  I know that there are mixed opinions about Investigations, but I have learned to make it work well for my first graders.  It's taken four years of tweaking and supplementing and adjusting, but every year, I enjoy it more and more.  It's so child-centered and developmentally appropriate.  In this crazy culture of teaching to the test and pushing kids to read earlier and earlier, math is the one time of day that I can count on for so much time focusing on the number system and the patterns that numbers make in first grade.  I feel like my kiddos leave me with such a strong, concrete number sense...nothing like I ever had.

Investigations uses lots of manipulatives and games to teach math concepts--another thing I love!  I wanted to share a game my kids are just loving right now.  Last week, I introduced it during our math lessons.  This week, it is at math center.  It's called "Make 10."  Please keep in mind that Investigations focuses more on the how and why of addition in first grade and not rote memorization (we actually have a supplemental program that we are required to use for fluency, but that's for another time...).

So, the object of "Make 10" is for students to find different ways to make 10 using number cards.  We have special number cards that come with Investigations, but you could just as easily use playing cards.  You'll just need to add in some 1s and 0s.

The basic rules are:

  • Lay out four rows of five cards.  
  • Find two cards to make ten.
  • Record your answer as an equation.
  • Fill in the missing spots with new cards.
  • You play until you run out of cards and can't make anymore combinations to equal 10.
However, this game is WONDERFUL because you can provide instant differentiation.  I encourage kids to use more than two cards to make 10.  I have also challenged my highest kids to make 10 using mixed operations in an equation.  I took a ton of pictures today as my kids were playing, so you should be able to get an idea of how it works.  Also, kids can play alone, with a partner, or a group of three, so it's a great quiet or interactive game, depending on your situation.

This is how the center is set up.  I wrote brief rules on a little tri-fold board I made from a file folder.

This is what the game looks like as it's being set up.

Here you can see some of the pairs she has made.  She then records the matching equation in her note book.  She has also replaced the cards she took out with new ones.  Notice there are no "holes" in the set-up.
Here's some longer ways to make 10...

...and the matching equations.
Here's an example of a way one of my higher kids came up with: 9+9-8=10.

The equation to match.
The kids get so into this game.  I mean REALLY into it!  It's exciting to see them stretching their minds. I love the higher-level thinking that begins to happen.

So, I'm thinking I might start doing a weekly math post to share some of the fun activities we do.  Hopefully, I can help inspire you to be a math nut enthusiast too!


  1. Great blog! Glad to meet you!

  2. That is such a great game, I can see why your students love it so much. I think it is a wonderful idea that you will be posting math activities to share with us. Like most teachers, I am not a math nut... but there's always room for change. I have a question about the game, you said we could use regular number cards but I can see from your pictures that there are more than one card of each number; how many sets of number cards do you need to play the game?