Children need many opportunities and invitations to play and practice with the numbers 1-10 to successfully grasp and apply mathematical concepts. For young children, developing number sense is important, and manipulatives play an important part in that process.
Look at the two different representations of the quantity eight:
For many children, the first representation may be a little too abstract. In order to find out the quantity, they would have to count each square one by one. However, when they see eight on a ten-frame, they are able to identify the quantity of eight as it relates to ten. This second visual may be more helpful in developing and retaining the sense of ten.
Seeing quantities as instantly recognizable without having to count from one is an important step in the stages of counting.
The use of a ten-frame helps children build mental images and develop the ability to instantly recognize small quantities of objects. These skills are important in strengthening a foundation for later mathematical concepts.
Next week, I will be posting some ideas for using the ten frames with children in order to strengthen number sense as well as addition.