Follow me on my 5 Frames adventure in Mental Maths

Five frames are graphic organisers that help children to visualise what they need to make a set of 5 . Mental Maths is something that we have made a priority in my school. After mid-term I will be using my 5 frames as revision and consolidation of Junior Infant adding to help my class become competent and confident at picturing numbers in their head.  I can’t wait!

Children who count using their fingers are doing so because they do not have a good mental concept for number and are using something concrete, their fingers, to help them work out maths equations.

Our number system places a huge emphasis on “10”. Since  5 is half of 10 it is also an important bench mark and a very important step in the evolution of mathematical knowledge.

5  frames help children:

  • keep track of counting
  • develop one correspondence between oral counting and actual counters eg when I say “one” I place “one counter down”  or by adding up counters through touching one counter for each number you count out orally
  • learn to add to 5  in their head
  • when the frames are inverted to create two upright columns  the concept of odd and even numbers is very clear

How to use 5 :                  

Print out a set of 5 Frame Boards. Use coins or buttons as counters. What about Cheerios or smarties for some yummy, yummy counters!!!

Explain the following :

  • only one counter is allowed in each space
  • counters are placed on the mat in the ” reading & writing direction”(left to right)

Different ways to play & learn:

This is how it works!  Have a look at this frame.

 What number is depicted?!




It visually depicts the number 3.

What can we tell by looking at this number frame?

We can clearly and easily see that…

This is 3

That 3 and 2 more would give 5

When you show your child number frames ask the following:                                                                  

Number recognition or The 5 Frame Flash:                                                                         Flash 5 Frame Cards at your child in a random order and ask him/her to call out what number it is.                                                                                                                                            

Adding to 5:

  • What number is this? Encourage your child to answer this by visually counting rather than touching.
  • By just looking how many more counters would we need to make 5?
  • Now count this out using your counters and see if you get the same answer.

Adding on and Counting Back:

  • What would one more than this number make?
  • What would one less than this number make?
  • What would 2 more make?
  • What would 2 less make?

Adding to 5 with a blank 5 Frame Card:

Give your child a blank 5 Frame card.

  •  Call out a sum eg 2 + 2=.
  • Have your child place 2 counters on the board.
  • Ask him or her to work out the answer in his/her head
  • Check the answer using counters

After lots and lots and lots of practice you can encourage children to just glance at the card and to the rest in their heads. Show then a card eg 2 frame. Ask them to picture if in their heads.  Now ask the same kind of questions…How many more would make 5? What would one more make?

I have created a number of different format 5 frame cards for you to download and use!

Click here to download my mini 5 frame cards

I have also created large format cards with only one frame per page. I will upload this PDF to my Interactive Whiteboard to help demonstrate and discuss number.

Click here to download

If you are doing this with your child at home or your school allows you to print in colour you might prefer these ones! The cute clip art is from DJ Inkers.  I resisted the urge to make decorate it even more as we want children to focus on the number rather than anything else.

Click here to download

Join me for more 5 Frame adventures soon! Why not subscribe to my blog. It’s free and you won’t  miss out on the next lesson.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂


3 thoughts on “Follow me on my 5 Frames adventure in Mental Maths

  1. Michelle says:

    my daughter just started kindergarten and my other daughter just started High School so when my kindergartener brought home the 5 frame I was totally confused!! I had never seen this before. I found your site and after you explained it all…………….I love it and think it is a wonderful method!!!! Thank you so much!

    • missmernagh says:

      Hi Michelle,
      I am thrilled that you found it useful. Five frames are so important for mental maths and number concepts. They are one of the most important tools to have in a Kindergarten classroom!
      I will be updating my game suggestions so check back soon!
      Miss Mernagh 🙂

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