Tens frames provide a powerful way to visualise numbers. Showing numbers on a tensframe reinforces the idea that the quantity attached to the number is always the same, in this case the 5 jugs are representing one way to show 5. When children count randomly placed objects, they are more likely to make mistakes, which could lead them to think that 5 is sometimes more and sometimes less. This ordered layout however, helps minimise counting errors and consolidates the idea that 5 represents a fixed quantity. Ten frames representations also give children a way to recognise 5 of something, working towards doing this without counting.

The activity pictured above is from a free educational website that I consult for, called Doorway Online. This counting game has options to count with or without the tens frame.