Work in Progress
Please pardon our progress while we refine the look and functionality of our new ALEX site! You can still access the old ALEX site at If you would like to share feedback or have a question for the ALEX Team, you can use the contact form here, or email us directly at

Learning Resource Type

Learning Activity

Making 10: Part 1

Subject Area





In this activity, students will practice decomposing a set of 10 objects in multiple ways to gain an understanding of the various ways 10 can be composed.

This activity was created as a result of the ALEX Resource Development Summit.

    Mathematics (2019) Grade(s): KG


    For any number from 0 to 10, find the number that makes 10 when added to the given number, by using concrete objects or drawings, and record the answer with a drawing or equation.

    Unpacked Content



    • Compose


    Students know:
    • Characteristics of addition and subtraction contexts such as putting together, adding to, taking apart, and taking from.


    Students are able to:
    • Represent quantities and operations physically, pictorially, or symbolically.


    Students understand that:
    • two smaller quantities join to create a larger target quantity.
    • A quantity may be broken into smaller quantities.
    • Mathematical tools and representations (ten frames and ten fingers) can be used to solve problems efficiently.


    Learning Objectives

    Learning Objectives

    Students will gain an understanding of various ways to compose 10 by decomposing a set of 10 objects in multiple ways.

    Activity Details

    1. The teacher will show students a tower of 10 cubes. Count the cubes with students.

    2. Put cube tower behind your back and chant "I have 10, I have 10, break it apart" (break cube tower into two pieces). Show students the two pieces. Continue the chant, "Now I have ___ (insert number of the first set) and ___ (insert the number of the second set)." Repeat a few times, breaking in different places.

    3. Pair students.

    4. Give each pair of students a tower of 10 cubes. Have students play the game following the above steps. Repeat several times.

    5. The teacher will ask students to tell different ways they found to make 10. The teacher will transcribe on chart paper using pictures and numbers.

    6. The teacher will end the lesson with the Number Pairs of Ten song, stopping at each pair to allow students to form the number pair with their cubes. If the number pair is not already on the chart, it can also be added to the chart.

    Assessment Strategies

    Assessment Strategies

    Informal Observation/Assessment: As students play the game with a partner, the teacher will ask students to describe the different ways they decomposed 10. The teacher will look for the students' ability to explain more than one way that they decomposed 10 using language similar to 9 and 1 make 10, 8 and 2 make 10, etc.  

    Variation Tips

    After students have had multiple opportunities to play the game or need an additional challenge, they can write equations to show their pairings.

    Background and Preparation

    Background / Preparation

    Prior to teaching the activity, the teacher will need to:

    create student pairings/partners.

    gather 10 cubes per pair of students.

    prepare the video on a technology device.

    prepare chart paper and supplies.

    Digital Tools / Resources