Using Tens Frames to Build the Basic Facts of Five


The purpose of this “unit” is to introduce addition facts to five.  It is important for students to have concrete experiences using a variety of contexts to build their knowledge of the basic facts of five.  They need to become secure in this knowledge to enable them to build on these known facts in future learning.

Achievement Objectives
NA1-3: Know groupings with five, within ten, and with ten.
Specific Learning Outcomes

build addition facts of five (and then ten) using a quinary frame.

Pre-requisite knowledge / skills: students need to be secure in combining sets up to five (and then ten) using concrete objects, then counting all to ascertain the total number.

Description of Mathematics

Number Framework Stage

  • Count all
Required Resource Materials

Tens frames for the numbers 0-5 (Option of giving one set to each student)

  1. Teacher shows tens frame with three counters on it and says
    I have three teddies on my bus.  Two more are waiting at the bus stop.  Let’s put the teddies on to the bus and see how many we have.

  2. Teacher puts two counters on to the tens frame and teacher and students count together.

  3. Repeat using a different story for 3+2.

  4. Teacher gives each student a blank tens frame and 2 different colour counters.

  5. Students make up their own number stories about 3+2.

Teacher records on a chart once the sets have been combined for two or three examples.
3 and 2 is the same as 5
The notation 2+3=5 may be brought in after several days’ work on joining sets.

Note: Students may find it difficult to create story contexts for given number sentences and may need to focus on this for some time to master it.

Additional Activities

The following list of activities could form the basis for further development of the facts of five using tens frames.


  • Repeat above teaching sequence with facts to ten, once facts to five are secure.
  • Students work in pairs to complete different number stories for 3+2
  • Compare the two ways of recording this addition: 3+2 and 2+3

Broadening Activities


  • Teacher poses a problem involving a difference to the students.  For example, 3 teddies were on the bus, and some of their friends got on.  If there are 5 on the bus now, how many friends got on?
  • Students make up a number story and show it on the tens frame.  They get others to solve it and write the number sentence.

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