Understanding and being able to quickly recognise which pairs of numbers group together to make 10 is an extremely useful numeracy skill for children to have. It assists greatly with quick skills in addition, subtraction and multiplication as well as laying some great building blocks for problem solving skills. If you can easily recognise that 7 add 3 gives you 10, then even adding numbers like 67 add 4 becomes easier because you are able to recognise that 67 needs 3 more to reach 70, and you have one extra so the answer is 71. Having a ten digit number system means these skills are incredibly useful.

Finger Pegs – A Great Activity for Young Children

A simple and fun way to help your child begin to make these number connections is to play a game we call Finger Pegs. All you need is some pegs in just two different colours (at least 10 of each colour) and your fingers. Begin by encouraging your child to place a peg on each one of your fingers using a combination of the two colours you have provided for them.


If your child is keen, help them write the number of each coloured peg they have used in a table. This way they will begin to see and recognise the pairs of numbers which go together to make 10. See if they can find all the pairs using the pegs and the chart.

Making Ten With Bowling

 Plastic bottle bowling is an old favourite among DIY games for kids. This is where you collect 10 of the same plastic bottles (drink bottles or 1.5 L cool drink bottles). You can decorate them, paint them, fill them with some sand, rice or water to make them harder to knock over or simply just leave them as is. You line them up in a triangular formation and then try to bowl them over with a ball.

We absolutely love how Debs from Learn with Play at Home has taken this game and added some great playful maths which leads to a brilliant, fun way of helping your children to learn “how to make 10”. After each roll of the ball simply ask your child to count how many bottles are UP and how many bottles are DOWN. If they are keen to write these numbers down in a table, then they will begin to see which numbers group to make 10. Deb has some great pictures of her 4 year old engaged with this activity. She also offers some handy hints for extending and simplifying the activity depending on your child’s age or ability level. Have a look at her full article here.

Making 10 Bingo for Older Children

With older children you can play Making 10 Bingo using a normal deck of cards. Take out the picture cards and simply place all the other cards face down. Taking turns with your child, turn over two cards at a time and try to find pairs which add to 10.

Making 10 Bucket Toss

You may also like to try Making 10 Bucket Toss. This is a fun activity for active kids. Using nine buckets, label them with the numbers one to nine. Using two balls or bean bags, the aim is to toss the first ball into a bucket and then the second ball needs to be tossed into the bucket which would make a total of ten with the first bucket.

Making 10 is an extremely useful skill and so many fun way to help your child learn! We hope you enjoy.

Photo credit: tourist_on_earth / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)