Fall Ten Frames

Fall ten frames

These Fall ten frames are a fun math leaf activity. All you need is a few leaves from the yard and a hole punch to work on math skills, and the sensory benefits of heavy work through the hands. It’s a fun way to teach math through play with sensory math!

Fall Ten Frames

This time of year, we are on leaf overload.  Just playing in the yard, we have piles and piles of leaves in of all the Fall colors.  I love getting outside with my kids and playing in the piles of leaves each year.  It is such a sensory and just plain old fun way to experience the season of Fall. 
We used some of those colorful leaves in a fun Math Ten Frame activity that combined fine motor strengthening for a powerful fine motor punch.  
Make fall ten frames with real leaves

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How to make Fall Ten Frames

Gather your materials:

  • Leaves
  • Black marker
  • Hole punch
  • Die or dice

That’s it! Next, get started on creating the leaf ten frames.

First step: Go out and gather those leaves! Nature hunts rock, and the crunchy, cool weather of Fall makes memories.  
Gather pretty leaves along your way and bring them on home.  
Note: You will want leaves that are not crunchy. Those dried up leaves are perfect for a different sensory activity- working on auditory processing skills with leaves
For this activity, you’ll want to gather colorful, freshly fallen leaves or leaves still on the tree will work best for this activity.
Next: Grab a Black Marker (affiliate link) and draw a ten frame on the leaf.  You’ll need a Hole Punch (affiliate link) for the math, and a die.  
Draw ten frames and punch holes in leaves with a hole punch


Using Ten Frames with Older Kids

This fall math activity can be used with older kids, too on a variety of math skills.
Roll the die and have your kiddo count the dots.  They can then use the Hole Punch (affiliate link) to mark off the correct number of dots on the ten frame.  
By rolling the die, kids can practice their ability to subsidize. 
Subsitizing refers to the math skill of knowing the number of dots on the dice by just glancing is a skill of subsidizing in math. and will help kids as they get older with math. Subsitizing helps a child advance to more advanced addition and subtraction, and allows for number sense in math.
Older kids can benefit from this activity, too.  I still use ten frames with my second grader.  They are a powerful way to introduce groups and multiplication concepts.  
Usually, I have my second grader roll the die twice or tree times and add the total before filling in the ten frame.  Ten frames also are a way to hone base ten concepts.  
How can you get a number to a base ten by “borrowing” from another number.  A math strategy like this is a good way to work on regrouping in addition.
You can grade this activity for older kids by using two dice.  Have them add the dots of both dice and punch holes from two leaves.  
Practice adding both numbers together. Ask them how to combine the numbers from both dice to form a full ten frame.  
Ask them to figure out how many holes are left over from the total.

Punch Holes in Leaves

Using a Hole Punch (affiliate link) provides huge proprioceptive input to little hands, which is such a good way to “wake up” hands before a writing activity. This input through the hands offers heavy work input that can “wake up” the hands. The great thing about proprioception tasks like this one is that heavy work can also be used to “calm down” the nervous system.
Similarly, we used scissors to cut real leaves along lines and develop fine motor skills, scissor skills, and eye-hand coordination, which also offered sensory motor feedback through the hands. 
Combine math, handwriting, and literacy by counting out numbers on the leaves, writing numbers on paper, and creating sentences based on the numbers.  You can also tally number of the different colored leaves and write down the results on paper.
You might have seen a recent post about gross grasp and why kids need to work on this area for development.  
A hole punch is a fabulous way to work on gross grasp and other fine motor strengthening, like thumb stability and motion needed for scissor use.  
Plus when you have all of the holes punched out from the leaves, you can use pincer grasp to pick up and sort the leaf circles. This is a great precision grasp and release activity to develop dexterity in fine motor skills.
Draw ten frames on leaves for fall math


Use this activity all Fall long for math, proprioception, and fine motor strengthening!  And enjoy those crunchy Fall colors before they are gone!

Looking for more hands-on, playful math activities?  These are some of our favorites: 

 Commutative Property of Addition  How to Add with Regrouping  Use play dough in math  Bottle caps in first grade math

More fine motor fun…

Working on fine motor skills, visual perception, visual motor skills, sensory tolerance, handwriting, or scissor skills? Our Fine Motor Kits cover all of these areas and more.

Check out the seasonal Fine Motor Kits that kids love:

Or, grab one of our themed Fine Motor Kits to target skills with fun themes:

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Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.