Five Frame Dot Cards
Dec 23, 2021

How to Use Five Frame Dot Cards for Math Retention

Hands-on learning /
Math /
Right-brained learners /
SnapWords® /
Decoding words /
Dyslexia /
Alphabet /
Fun activities /
Kid friendly /
Learning activities /
Making learning fun

Global children will benefit greatly from building a visual base to understand where each number falls in relation to other numbers. We’ve spent some time using dot cards to build a visual memory bank of how many each number is, of which combinations of numbers equal each target number, and now we will move on. For these games let’s use a different kind of number card. Help children gain a clear visual image for each number using Five Frame Dot Cards. Number Symbols mean nothing to most children, but seeing dot patterns show them what the number symbols represent.


Help children gain a clear visual image for each number using Five Frame Dot Cards.

Number Symbols mean nothing to most children, but seeing dot patterns show them what the number symbols represent.


Use a Five-Frame

Using 5 frames when teaching math

I personally prefer the Five-Frame Dot Cards because when you make an array of numbers in rows of five instead of ten, the result has quite a few benefits. One benefit is that the five-frame reveals wonderful patterns in numbers. Another is that we use fives for so many things in life. We have five fingers, five toes, we read an analog clock (do they still make those?) in increments of five minutes, etc. Another less obvious benefit of placing numbers in Five-Frames is that it provides another great opportunity for visual imprinting for computation.

Note the patterns that exist in the columns. 1 and 6 alternate rows, as do 2 and 7, 3 and 8, 4 and 9, and finally 5 and 0. To add five to a number you pick the number just below it (ie: 3+5=8, which is found just under the 3). To add 10 to a number, just jump down two rows. 4+10=14, which is just below the 9. 

Seeing the numbers arrayed in this fashion is going to help your child in thinking about numbers.

But for now, let’s go back to dots instead of numbers and play some games!

Five-Frame Dot Cards

Use five frame dot cards when teaching number sense

If you make some Five-Frame dot cards, you may play the same games you played with the other dot cards. Numbers are anchored to 5 and to 10 in this two-row dot card. Study this first dot card that shows 7. Notice that the dots on the top row are blacked in, plus two more dots on the next row. Children can learn rather quickly that the top row is like the five fingers on their left hand, while the second row is like the five fingers on their right hand. So, the 7 in the Five-Frame is like one hand and two more fingers. The visual background the child will gain is that 7 is 2 more than five and 3 less than 10. You will be letting your child gain a visual background for how each number relates to the numbers around it.


In the next dot card, 4 is shown. You can see 4 anchored to both 5 and 10. 4 is one less than 5, and you need six more to get to 10. Relate this dot card to your child’s hands by having him show you four fingers up on his left hand, but not his thumb, nor any fingers on his right hand.

 Use 5 frame dot cards when teaching math


Playing with the Five-Frame Dot Cards

  1. Begin with number-recognition games. Show a card and ask, “How many is this?” Remember, as always, that the child is going to guess at how many, not count dots!
  2. Next make the connection to the child’s own hands. Hold up a dot card and have the child show you on her hands how many as she tells you orally how many the dot card shows. For example, if you hold up the 7 dot card, the child will hold up all five fingers on her left hand, two fingers on her right hand, and will say, “seven.”
  3. Next, ask, “How many more than 5?” She will answer, “two.”
  4. Finally ask, “How many more to 10?” She will compare the three fingers she’s NOT holding up to the three white dots on the Five-Frame and will answer, “three.”
  5. If the child is still engaged and having fun, ask questions like, “How many would it be if I took off one dot?” or “How many would it be if I colored in one more dot?”

Play Other Games with the Five-Frame Dot Cards

Turn the child loose to play memory or war or go fish with another child, or play with him. Try to limit the teaching moments and just let the child have a lot of experience focusing on playing the games because as he’s playing, he will be storing up a wealth of visual information about numbers! Visuals and play are great ways to help your child love learning!

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