Let's make ten sticks! What are ten sticks?

Ten sticks are a group of 10 "ones" (single items) adhered to a stick or stick-like object.

These ten sticks can help a student count by ones and tens. The sticks can also help a student visualize that 10 individual items are the same amount as those same 10 individual items together in a group. 

    Here is a sample ten stick. The student can count the items on the stick by ones, saying "1, 2, 3, 4....10".   OR the student can count the items on the stick by ten, and simply say "10". 


  For 2 ten sticks, a child can count the items on the sticks by ones, saying "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, ........20". OR the student can count the items on the sticks by tens, saying "10(for the first stick), then 20 (for the second stick).


For 5 ten sticks, a child can count the items on the sticks by ones, saying "1,2,3,4,5,.......10, 11, 12, 13, 14, .........22, 23, 14............50". OR the student can count each stick by tens, saying "10, 20, 30, 40, 50".


Just as much fun as counting interchangably by tens and ones is the task of making the ten sticks. As you can see in the photographs, use common objects such as stickers, tongue depressors, stiff paper like oaktag,and popsicle sticks to make ten sticks.You may also want to use the grid provided here to make paper strips of ten for the tens sticks . 

To help students understand that every group of ten individual items equals a ten, play this game.

First decide what kind of "sticks" are to be used. Choices for sticks shown in the photos are 1"x8.5" oaktag strips, popsicle sticks, tongue depressors, or the grid provided. You will need a large number of stickers of the same kind if you choose anything but the grid. You will just need colored pencils or crayons if you are using the grid. You will also need a set of dice.


Players:2. Give each player 10 sticks (all popsicle sticks, tongue depressors, or oaktag strips) or one grid each. One player starts by rolling the dice. The number rolled is the amount of stickers that need to be adhered to the stick(s). The player cannot adhere more than 10 stickers to a stick. The "extra"must go on another stick.

If the player is using a grid, then the number of boxes colored in must match the number rolled. Each row of the grid is one color, but each row is colored differently. For example, if the player rolls 12, then the first row of ten squares would be colored the same color (yellow, for instance) and the first 2 squares of the second row would be colored a different color (and will continue to be that color with subsequent turns until the end of the row).


The winner is the person who fills in all of their ten sticks or grid first. Cut on the dotted lines to separate the rows of ten in the grid.  Use the ten sticks or the grid strips to practice counting by tens.

Follow up this activity with Keep on Truckin' With Tens and Ones- a great activity for using place value in a trucking/warehouse/delivery business for kids!

You can find this at  https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Margo-Gentile   or  https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Keep-On-Truckin-With-Tens-and-Ones-1187858





  1. I do believe all of the ideas you have offered in your post. They are very convincing and can definitely work. Still, the posts are too brief for starters. May just you please prolong them a bit from subsequent time? Thanks for the post.

  2. @video games:Thank you for your comment. I always look forward to hearing from visitors. The free ideas that I post do work- I have used most of them in the classroom. I'm surprised to see that you would like me to expand the content of my posts. I'm usually told that I'm too verbose! That was a refreshing statement from you. I will try to add more details in the future. If there is any post that you would like to see more info on, just let me know!Thanks again......Margo

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