Lesson Plan:

10 Birds, 2 Wires

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September 6, 2015
by Angela Fiorille

Learning Objectives

Students will understand what the number 10 represents. Students will break 10 items apart into 2 groups, finding as many combinations as possible. Students will be able to show visual representations as addition equations.


Introduction (10 minutes)

  • Begin the lesson by explaining to students that the focus of the day is working with the number 10.
  • Ask students to turn and talk to their neighbors. Have each person share what he knows about the number 10.
  • Circulate the room to hear your students' conversations.
  • Ask a few students to share what they talked about. Ask them to share any questions they may have about the number 10.

Explicit Instruction/Teacher Modeling (5 minutes)

  • Explain that you will begin by considering a problem involving 10.
  • Pass out the 10 Birds, 2 Wires worksheet.
  • Tell students to cut out the ten bird cards.
  • When students are ready, explain that the problem is that there are 10 birds and only 2 wires.
  • Ask your students if they have ever seen birds on power wires and how this problem could be addressed.

Guided Practice/Interactive Modeling (10 minutes)

  • Instruct your students to take their ten birds and place them on the 2 wires, using any combination they want.
  • Define and give examples of the term combination. Remind your students that a combination is a group of numbers or different ways to place objects.
  • Give students a few minutes to place their birds on the wires.
  • Ask students to share their combinations. As students share, write the related addition equations on the board.
  • Once students have shared and you have written several different equations, ask students to explain what the equations you wrote mean.
  • Discuss what the numbers in your equations represent. For example, show that 2 + 8 means two birds and eight birds.
  • Demonstrate that any different combination of numbers adds up to 10 because each student only has 10 birds.

Independent Working Time (20 minutes)

  • Explain that students will now work with partners (or teams) to make pictures showing their own 10 combinations using any representations they want. For example, instead of 10 birds and 2 wires, students could use 10 cookies and 2 friends.
  • Have your students draw two examples of combinations of ten, such as 4 apples and 6 apples or 3 bears and 7 bears.
  • Direct them to also write the addition equation that corresponds with each picture.
  • As student pairs or teams work, circulate around the room to provide support.



  • Enrichment: For advanced students, have them show combinations of 20 or higher.
  • Support: Encourage your students to work with tiles or other manipulatives to split up ten into two groups. Help them record the addition equations on mini whiteboards or paper as they go along.

Related Books and/or Media


Assessment (5 minutes)

  • As you walk around, identify students who do or don't understand what the number 10 represents.

Review and Closing (5 minutes)

  • Once most students are finished, call them together to share some of their work with each other.
  • Prompt students to give each other feedback or ask questions as they share.
  • If time permits, close by having students tell you all of the combinations which make 10. Record the related equations on the board.

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