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Make a Ten Strategy Activity: Marzano Level 2

Updated: Jul 18, 2022

An artistic approach to the make a ten strategy that will strengthen your learners ability to add and subtract fluently.

Heads up this is a hefty standard so I have given you two tidbits.

There are a multitude of strategies children are expected to learn in order to strengthen their ability to add and subtract fluently. You may have heard the term fluency in connection with reading but fluency also has a place in mathematics.

In math, fluency is the ability to mentally solve a problem within (roughly) 5-10 seconds. This sounds short but if your learner(s) are taking any longer they are not fluent...and it's okay, there are fluency milestones:

fluency with 5 is expected to be mastered by the end of kindergarten

fluency within 10 is expected to be mastered by the end of first grade

fluency within 20 is expected to be mastered by the end of second grade

There are foundational skills such as counting that can help your learner(s) grow in that department.


Making a ten is one of those multitude of strategies I mentioned earlier. This strategy involves breaking down the addends in an addition problem and combining them to make the number 10 so that the problem can be solved quickly. This is a more advanced skill since your learner will need to (1) know what two numbers make ten when they add them together and (2) know how to make a new addition sentence with the numbers remaining after they make their ten.

Skill Level

Level 2


  • paper and sheet protector

  • dry erase markers

  • flashcards with one of the addend being greater than 5 but less than 9


  1. Say "We are going to practice the make a ten strategy. It has a few steps so we have to play close attention and use our memory"

  2. Have the child read the problem or you can read the problem to them

  3. Say " The first thing I need you to do is draw our first addend". For a visual aide, have the child draw circles in groups of five. If the number is greater than five they will go under their first circle to finish drawing (look at the video for an example).

  4. Say "Now draw the other addend"

  5. Once they are done say "Next we need to see how many more circles our first addend needs to become the number 10." Allow the child time to find out how many, but if they struggle count with them and point out the missing spaces if possible.

  6. Say "Since we are missing [insert how many] we can steal them from the other addend. DO NOT SAY BORROW THAT LEAVES THE IMPRESSION THE NUMBERS WILL GO BACK. You can say take if you truly feel uncomfortable with steal but do not say borrow.

  7. Make a big circle around the necessary amount and the first addend and say "We just turned into ten". Then erase and say "Now you try". Help them with circling if they struggle

  8. Say "We have to make a new addition sentence to match our problem since we made ten, let's write 10 under our circle and write the number of circles that we did not use to make our ten."

  9. Once the new 10 addition sentence is written say "This is our last step, let's count find out our answer for our new problem".

  10. Say "Great job at solving that. Since we did not add any extra circles to our picture and we did not cross any out, we still have the same amount of circles right?" the child should say yes. "So since the amount has not changed our answer for our new problem is the same answer for our original number sentence."

Practice this numerous times and as your child becomes more advance allow them to go through the steps with minimal support. This will take multiple attempts before mastery so please do not pressure your child to master this quickly, this is a multi-step strategy that takes time.

Give this activity a try and let me know how it went for you. Be sure to share pictures with me on Instagram or Facebook @MissDGunn


Miss D. Gunn

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