Teacher Tech blog with Alice Keeler

Paperless Is Not a Pedagogy

Alice Keeler

Ten Frames Activity in Google Sheets

pinto ten frames google sheets activity
Ten Frames Activity in Google Sheets
pinto ten frames google sheets activity

This activity was created by Christine Pinto to have her transitional kindergarten students practice conceptual understanding using ten frames.

Ten Frames Template


Google Apps for Littles

I always say “do not underestimate what students can do” but I will admit I was blown away by 6-year-old Jocelyn.

YouTube video

At a Google Apps for Littles workshop with Christine Pinto, one of the participants brought her 6-year old who will be starting 1st grade this week. (Mom gave permission to use her name and the video.) We first did a pixel art activity where the students type single digit numbers to create pictures. (alicekeeler.com/pixelart).  Understanding that she can color code cells in a spreadsheet by typing a number, Jocelyn got right to work filling in her 10 frame with 2 colors. She then carefully counted how many of each color she had and typed the equation into the yellow cell. For example 7 + 3 = 10. Below the equation was an opportunity for Jocelyn to check her work. Does 7 + 3 indeed equal 10? To check her work in the spreadsheet she starts by using an equals sign and types = 7 + 3. Pressing enter the spreadsheet returns the output value of 10.

Jocelyn was so engaged in this activity. The spreadsheet allowed her to practice multiple ways of expressing 10. We could not get her to stop doing the activity to do the next one. The video above is Jocelyn going to the next tab which challenges students to use 3 colors instead of just 2. I asked her “Do you think you can do it with 3 colors?” Confidently Jocelyn said “Yes I can!” and you can see she didn’t need any more directions beyond the prompt to use 3 colors. She was so proud of herself!


Make a copy of the template. Rename it and post to Google Classroom as “Make a copy for each student.”

Conditional Formatting

Students type single digit numbers to correspond to a color into the ten frame box on the spreadsheet.
Making ten frames in google sheets


Using precise language, ask students to write the equation that represents their ten frames into the yellow cell to the right.
student types equation into spreadsheet cell

Check Your Answer

In the blue box below the equation, students type a formula to check their work. Students start with an equals sign and type their expression. If the student did it correctly the answer should result in 10.
ten frame checking work in a spreadsheet.

View Student Formulas

To check that the students wrote formulas to check their work, use the View menu and choose “All formulas.” This shows the formulas in the spreadsheet.
view all formulas

3 Colors

To take it further, students can practice ten frames with 3 numbers.
go to the next tab 3 colors

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