8 Fun Friends to Ten Math Centres your Students will LOVE

Building up your student’s fluency in ‘Friends to 10’ (number bonds to ten) is so important in helping develop their numeracy skills and create connections with other mathematical concepts. It is a skill that once mastered will assist them to become confident and competent little mathematicians, and that is what we are aiming for!




We don’t know about you, but we are always looking for new ways to encourage the use of concrete materials to support the learning in our classrooms. We love activities that support the development of quick recall, have an element of rigour and of course are exciting for our students.


Today we have collated 8 ideas that we have shared on our Rainbow Sky Creations Instagram account that are perfect for Maths Centres when working on number combinations that add to 10. Not only are they age-appropriate and fun but your students will be asking you for more Maths time once they have tried them!



1.Get out the Coloured Rice

Create a Friends to Ten treasure hunt using coloured rice, magnetic letters, and tongs. This activity is hands-on and great for fine motor development as well as fact fluency. Children love working with coloured rice and you could easily have them record their learning on a mini-whiteboard as they go.


Teacher tips: If you don’t already have coloured rice in your supplies, plain pasta, dried lentils or sand are all inexpensive and will do the trick! Also, if you want to avoid some of the mess, bring in an old sheet from home for the students to work on. Hopefully, most of the overflow will end up there and you can either shake it outside or carefully put back in your containers to reuse again.



2. Fine Motor meets Math

Create a visual aid for students using pop sticks, stickers and pegs. The pegs also provide additional fine motor practice for students too (we are big on doubling up on skills!) We often use a tens frame when working with numbers up to ten, however, it is a good experience for students to see collections visually in other ways too. You could also substitute the paddle-pop sticks for unifix cubes if you want to stick to minimal setup.



3. Number Sentence Creation Station

Teachers all over Instagram are using the free paint chip samples in their classrooms for all sorts of things. Why not use them to as a fun way to build number sentences, work on the idea of moving numbers around in a number sentence or even make a connection to subtraction. The colours make them so much more exciting than using cards or simply writing in a notebook. Find paint chips like these your local hardware store for free!



4. Recycled Tens Frames

An egg carton trimmed creates the perfect tens frame. Again, great for fine motor development if you use pom-poms and tongs for this activity. This style of task is wonderful for those hands-on or visual learners in your classroom. Team it with a recording sheet or simply set it up as an investigation.




5. Create an Artwork

Support visual learners by creating an artwork to reinforce their learning in Maths. Here we have used cupcake paddies and coloured markers. The best part of this activity is it will also double as a beautiful display in your classroom where students can be constantly reminded of the number combinations that make 10!



6. Magnetic Letters and Baking Trays

What is better than using a worksheet? Turning it into a hands-on activity where your students are working on the recall of facts but doing it in a way that they will love. This is also a paper saver because you aren't copying a worksheet for the entire class. Baking trays are an excellent addition to your magnetic letter collection. You don’t need the tray to make this idea work, but it does help stop numbers slipping and sliding all over the place.




7. Play in Pairs

Games are a great way to learn and playing in pairs also adds the element of peer mentoring. Use this Friends of 10 game to consolidate skills and develop a solid understanding about number combinations that add to 10. You could also send it home for those students that need a little extra practice. Grab this game for free here!



We have also adapted some good old fashioned games you could play with your students too. Find our 'Guess Who' game here.




8. Colour Code with Counters

Again, this activity acts like an investigation where students will be on the search for partners that add to ten. By using counters, the activity can be completed over and over again. Students could complete a task like this individually, in pairs or small groups!





So, there you have it! 8 ideas using items you probably already have in your classroom or kitchen at home that will get your students fluent and confident in recalling their number bonds to ten!


Have you read this post and thought, “This is great but I am a time-poor teacher, I love these ideas but don’t have time to create all of that?!” – Don’t worry, we have been there and we have got you covered. Check out our printable hands-on activities or print and go friends to ten packs designed to save you time!





What to read next:

Our Top Tips to Teach Number Sense Well

Picture Books to Help you Teach Math

Considerations when Planning Authentic Assessment



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