Mr. Jones' Room

1st-4th Math Coach Constantly Searching for New Ideas

Making 10s with a Balance

Making 10s with a Balance

Today, with my 1st graders I decided I’d make 10s using a balance. The kids were (mostly) familiar with the idea of a balance and got that if one side was the same as the other that both sides would be equally “floating” in the air. This was a relief because I wasn’t entirely sure that all my students would be familiar with this idea. This is also good as an introduction to that idea as balances take over in science over the next few years.

I started off with this on our horseshoe table.

I scaffolded to show what the "point" of this was...that something + something = 10.

I scaffolded to show what the “point” of this was…that something + something = 10.

I had students pick numbers less than 10 and we made predictions on how many more cubes would get us balanced.

Started with 5 + ? = 10

Started with 5 + ? = 10

I would never say this to the kids, mainly because they’d have NO idea what I was talking about… But, this is a foundation to algebra if I’ve ever seen one. They’re doing this in 1st grade. No tentativeness, no fear. They saw a fill in the blank and knew they had to solve for it without ever being told. Just something to think about as math becomes harder and harder, they can do it with a little bit of guidance.


5 + 5 = 10

5 + 5 = 10


We went on to write all the combinations that could make the scale balanced.


Hopefully the reinforcement of making tens over the next couple of weeks will lead to a greater understanding of place value and number sense.

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This entry was posted on April 29, 2014 by in Everyday.
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