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Ten Flashing Fireflies

Alignments to Content Standards: K.OA.A.2



  • Ten Flashing Fireflies by Philemon Sturges 
  • 10 frame and 10 counters per student


Begin with 10 counters off the 10 frame mat with the yellow side facing up to represent the fireflies in the sky. As you read the story, the students should move a yellow counter to the ten frame to represent the firefly in the jar. Stop several times during the story to allow the students time to talk with their partner about how many fireflies are in their jar and how many are in the sky. Ex. There are 3 fireflies in my jar and 7 fireflies are in the sky. That equals 10 fireflies all together. At the end of the story, let the students put the counters away to represent the fireflies flying away. As a group, have the students come together to write a class list of all the combinations for 10 that were made.

IM Commentary

The purpose of this task is to help students develop fluency with addition facts to 10. The focus in developing fluency should be more than the internalization of facts but on supporting students' natural development of number sense so that students are able to solve computations flexibly and efficiently using their understanding of relationships between numbers.

Children’s natural development of numbers progresses from the concrete to the abstract, from counting all (e.g. physically making four counters and then making twelve and counting all the counters to get sixteen), to counting on (e.g., counting four more starting at twelve to get to sixteen), to using part-whole (e.g. splitting apart the twelve to ten and two, and adding the two to four, then adding the ten) and relational thinking (knowing that 4 + 10 is 14 so 4 + 12 would be just two more).

This task supports students at the beginning of this journey when they are counting all. It also helps students develop part-part whole thinking by having them explore all the ways that ten can be made.

sherylekuhnley says:

over 3 years

This problem caught my eye so I decided to check it out. I really like it, but I have a couple of concerns:

  1. Please check it because the written words are not correlating correctly to the spoken words. It gradually gets more and more off and by the end of the story it is completely off.

  2. Also, is there a reason why the fireflies in the left hand jar go back down to one each time rather than stay at the correct number? This may be confusing for students.

Thank you! Sheryle