Composing numbers to 10

Composing numbers to 10

Composing numbers to 10

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Composing numbers to 10

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Students learn to compose numbers to 10. They learn this by adding to numbers of objects already given, or by adding one more until 10 is reached.


It is useful to be able to compose numbers to 10 so you know how many of something you still need. If you have a party and want to give everyone a glass of juice, you need to know if you have enough glasses for the guests. By composing, you know how many glasses you need to add to meet the number of guests.


Students practice counting to 10 by counting objects and writing down their totals.


Explain the term 'composing' using pencils to demonstrate. Take 3 pencils and say that you want to compose 5. How many pencils do we need to add? If you count on (from 3) you automatically reach 5. Some students will immediately be able to see that they need 2 pencils. Discuss composing- counting how many you have, and counting on to the desired number with a few more examples. Ask students to practice by themselves with their own colored pencils. Check that students can compose by dragging the images to compose specific numbers. Have students explain their thinking as they do so.

To check that students understand composing numbers to 10 by asking the following questions:
- What does 'composing' mean?
- Are there more things in the class that we can compose?
- When is it useful to be able to compose numbers?

Guided Practice

Students practice composing amounts to 10 by deciding which amount needs to be added to to a given number to compose the desired number.


Give pairs of students 10 pencils each and have them practice composing by turns. The one sets a random number of pencils on the table and the other must compose to 10. You can also vary with other numbers. Check that students understood by composing the pencil blocks to 10 and erasing the covers hiding the answers. Discuss why it is important to be able to compose numbers and have them come up with other examples in which they could use composing.

Teaching Tip

Students who have difficulty can be supported by doing the problems with manipulatives like blocks or pencils.

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