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Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.

Play “Friends of 10” for Easy Math Practice

Understanding addition and subtraction and strategies involving the number 10 are crucial components of Common Core Math Standards. Easy recall of various ways to add and subtract 10 is also an important part of early math fluency.

“Friends of 10” is a simple game to help a young student practice these skills and have a little fun in the process.
You will need:

  • Either a plastic or paper plate. If you don’t have a plastic or paper plate handy, use a napkin or folded-over paper towel.
  • Ten small, somewhat flat and uniformly shaped objects. For example, 10 of the same coins, Cheerios, Lego rectangles, etc.

To play:

  • Lay the 10 objects on a table or counter top.
  • Have the student count the objects so he knows there are 10.
  • Ask him, “How many objects are here?” He answers “10.”
  • Cover the objects with the plate, or whatever cover you are using while he watches. Then ask, “How many are underneath?” He’ll answer, “10.”
  • Have him turn around and close his eyes. Take a few items out from under the cover and put those on top. For example, put three on top, leaving seven hidden.
  • Have him turn back around. Ask, “How many do you see on top?” He’ll say, “3.” Then ask, “If we started with 10, and you see three on top, how many are still hidden?” At first, he may have to count on fingers to get the answer.  The more you play, the more fluent he will become with all the different combinations of 10. 
  • Vary combinations of 10 each time you play.
  • Don’t forget to include zero. Try placing no objects on top, leaving 10 underneath or 10 objects on top for zero hidden.


If starting with 10 objects is difficult for your young child, you can begin with five objects for “Friends of Five.” Once “Friends of Five” is mastered increase the quantities, one object at a time, up to 10.

Young students love playing this game. It uses visual, auditory, and hands-on modalities to help all types of learners master the various combinations of 10!


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