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Second Grade Math: Tens and Ones and Sticker Station

December 7, 2021 | Heather Palmer Welesko

In math this mini-term, the second grade is opening a sticker station! We are using stickers to accomplish two second grade math standards:

100 can be thought of as a bundle of ten tens — called a “hundred.”

Mentally add 10 or 100 to a given number 100-900, and mentally subtract 10 or 100 from a given number 100-900.

Stickers are for sale in strips of tens and singles. Eventually sheets of 100 will be available as well. Students enjoyed designing their own stickers, and at the end of this unit, we might have a pretend sticker store, wherein students “buy” each other’s stickers using classroom money. A sticker store is a great collaboration of our learning with money and learning to mentally add and subtract within 100 using 10s and 1s.

Using tens and ones is the goal. How we teach them in second grade is based on Universal Designs for Learning, a pedagogy of learning based on creating students goals, allowing students to express their learning in varied ways, and engaging students using real life situations. One way we (the teachers) are engaging students in this learning is through the sticker store. Another way is through using stations. Today, there were three stations. Each station features a different activity that works students toward the goal. The stations allow students different methods of expressing what they know, with varying degrees of difficulty.

At station one, students used their stickers to “make” the number. This station gave students concrete tools to show their learning. Here are the students at table one making their numbers with stickers. You can see some of their cool designs, too.


At table two, students worked in their math books. In the books, they needed to write the number of stickers they saw, and explained how many tens and how many ones where in that number. They also needed to draw a number in sticker notation. This station took away some of the concrete tools and relied more heavily on symbols (numbers) and drawings. Here are the students at table two.

At station three, students used cubes to make strips and singles. They made a number on a flashcard using cubes. They can use concrete to do their math.

After 10-12 minutes, students switch stations. We do three rotations, until each student has visited each station. Then we meet back in the meeting area and debrief, and usually do a math game. Students are more engaged in their learning and learn the goals when we use stations. Sticker station will last the whole mini term. And who knows, maybe there will be a store at the end of the unit, too.

Heather Palmer Welesko

Literacy and Assistant Teacher, Grades 4 & 5

Heather Welesko has taught at Mustard Seed School for nearly a decade as a literacy and assistant teacher. She has taught literature and writing at Kean University and Harold Washington College of Chicago. Heather holds an MFA in writing and poetry from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MA in Leadership and Spiritual Formation from Evangelical Seminary.

Ms. Welesko is enthusiastic about professional development, and has advanced training in the Handwriting Without Tears program; the Fountas and Pinnell Guided Reading Program, and the Responsive Classroom/ Development Designs Program through Origin. She continues professional develop through The Columbia University Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. She’s passionate about literature, creativity, comprehensive education, and believes strongly in teaching identity and diversity awareness and inclusion.

Ms. Welesko is a poet, artist, and yogi, and is still, always learning.

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