Paper Plate Setup

Paper Plates, Pennies and the Magic Number 10

At my last parent teacher conference of the year, my daughter’s teachers advised me to have Gracie (her pseudo name) memorize her math facts for the number 10. Once she memorized her math facts for 10, the others would come more easily. Memorizing addition math facts is not the way I want to spend the summer. The idea of checking countless worksheets or drilling 1 + 9 = 10, 2 + 8 = 10 and so forth on long car rides is a recipe for mother/daughter drama and anxiety. I certainly wanted to avoid that.

On a recent trip to ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education), I met a lovely woman from Australia. She shared a fun activity that includes a paper plate, pennies (or some other manipulative), crayon and a piece of paper. The game is simple. I took a paper plate and drew a line down the middle and divided the plate into two. I gave Gracie 10 pennies and asked her to place the pennies on both sides of the plate. I took a piece of blank copy paper and wrote the number 10 at the top. I divided the paper into two by drawing a line down the middle. Next, I had Gracie record the different combinations of adding to 10 on the piece of paper.

This activity was a lot of fun. Her younger sister even joined us by piling pennies on a paper plate and creating her own worksheet.

Big sis little sis


  1. Gracie has visual processing issues and crossing midline is challenging for her. I think this activity worked well because the middle was clearly marked on both the paper and the plate. She did struggle with matching right side paper plate with right side paper so I quickly marked R (right) and L (left) on both the plate and paper to help her orient the pennies and numbers.
  2. We sometimes use puffballs for manipulatives. For this activity, I would advise not to use them. Instead, pennies are heavier and more likely to stay put. The puffballs are likely to roll about.
  3. I saved the equations Gracie made so she can review them at her leisure. I have created a portfolio and I noticed, she likes to review her work often. All the better so she can memorize her math facts!
  4. To reinforce what Gracie learned with the plate and penny activity, she played a Todo Math mission entitled Picture Perfect Addition Practice.

Picture Perfect Addition


Until next time!