Focus on Math

Helping children become mathematicians!

Building Numbers: A Kindergarten or Primary Activity January 23, 2014

building numbers chips 2

I visited Mrs. Merrill’s kindergarten class today. The focus of the math lesson was on building numbers to 10, we did this with a large organizing sheet (11” x 17”), some small dot cards (each student had a set of cards 1 to 10 — download below), and small bingo chips. Students were asked to place a dot card over each square on the paper, and then use the bingo chips to make another set the same size in each box.

Some students chose to lay their cards out in rank order, while others were happy to just lay the cards in any order they pulled the card out the small bag. We also noticed some students organizing and building left to right in the boxes, while others built randomly on the page.

building numbers chips 1

The organizing sheet is very “generic” on purpose allowing it to be used in a variety of ways. The number for building can be generated by a dot card, by rolling a die (or dice), by placing a number word card (e.g., “two”) over the square, by dropping a bean onto a 100 chart, etc. Students can build the number with counters, with little ten frames (I find children love to work with tiny things!), with base-10 blocks, etc.

building numbers 10 frames

I have not figured out how to put a large 11 x 17 paper into Dropbox, but if you will print out the template you want onto legal-sized paper, you can then enlarge at a copier 121% and it will fit the 11 x 17 page rather nicely.

I have created templates for building 8 different numbers as  well as for building 10 different numbers. The latter could be used for 100 Day activities by building 10 in each space for a total of 100.

Dot cards can be downloaded here as well.

I hope you are able to use the activity in one of its “versions” in your classroom!

Mathematically yours,



2 Responses to “Building Numbers: A Kindergarten or Primary Activity”

  1. on your dot cards can I ask why the one is outside the ten grid? Vicky

    • Hi Vicky. Thanks for your question. If you look at the full set of dot cards you will see that many of them are non-traditional. All of them, however, have students look at numbers in an interesting and unique way. With a dot outside the ten frame (and some of the other dot cards have some in the frame as well as one or two out of the frame) the student must mentally move it into the frame to think about the number being represented. Others dot cards use the frames in other non-traditional ways. For instance, there is a card with six dots, but instead of the usual five and one configuration, the card has a not-yet-full column of four dots with two in the other column. The more ways students practice seeing numbers, the more powerful will be their thinking in using numbers!

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