How Many? 5-Frame and 10-Frame Inside-Out

Spatial Reasoning Skills

  • Visualization
  • Mental rotations
  • Composing and decomposing figures
  • Perspective Taking

Curriculum – Geometry and Spatial Sense

  • Composing and decomposing shapes
  • Describing location using positional language
  • Recognizing transformations
  • Describing relative locations and paths of motion


Using configurations of dots both inside and outside 5-frames and/or 10-frames, an image of quantities is revealed, then quickly covered. Children are asked to describe what they saw. The challenge for children is to remember the configuration of dots to give the total number of dots.

The purpose of this lesson activity is to support spatial structuring of numbers; to strengthen students’ working memory and composing and decomposing.


  • A series of challenge number cards (template available)


  • Go over configurations of dots with students 
  • Prompt a discussion around memorization. For example, possible prompts to consider:
    • What is memorization?
    • What are some things that we memorize?
    • How do you remember things?


  • Summarize the concept of the activity.
  • Gather children in a semicircle with a good view of the teacher and let them know they are going to be playing a game about trying to quickly see dots and remember numbers.
  • Present students with a configuration of dots for approximately 4–6 seconds, then hide the image.


  • Invite students to recall and share what they saw.
  • Ask students to use their fingers to show the total number of dots.
  • Reveal the image again so that students can verify their ideas.
  • Repeat for other challenges, progressing to the 10-frame when appropriate.

Extension Activity

  • Consider the following prompts for possible extension activities: 
    • Allow students to create their own challenges for a partner or for the class.
    • Use multiple 5-frames to encourage grouping and counting by 5’s and multiplicative thinking.
    • Hold up two cards at once to build visual memory and early addition skills.