# How to Teach Teen Numbers so Kids Get It!

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Most American 3-to-6 year olds learn to count to 10, but when they get to the teen numbers, they struggle.  Why?

Two reasons:  First, the teen number names are unfamiliar (e.g., eleven, twelve, thirteen, etc).  Second, teen numbers involve place value.  When children see a teen number, say 12, the tens and the units places are not obvious and can be confusing.

To make the teen numbers familiar, show children numbers they already know.  In the example below, we show the number 10   1, and we name the number ten one, not eleven.   Why?

10    1    NOT    11

Children don’t know the number names for eleven, twelve, thirteen etc., but they do know the number names and symbols up to 10.  Thus, if educators name and show eleven as 10  1 and twelve as 10  2, this naming makes immediate sense to preschool and Kindergarten students.

The second step when teaching teen numbers is to link each numeral to its quantity, and demonstrate the number's place value.  In this example lesson, the student represents 10 with the 10-bar, and one with one unit bead.  Notice how the 10-bar goes under the 10 place, and the unit bead(s) go under the unit place. This is another reason why it is important to teach the teens as 10  1,  10  2,  10  3, etc.   It helps the child understand the place value when building each number.

The third step to help young children master teen numbers is introducing The Number Slide.    In the image below, you can see how The Number Slide transforms the expanded form numbers (e.g.,  10  1,  10  2, etc.) into the conventional number (e.g. 11, 12, etc.).

When teachers show students the number slide, and when student do the number slide on their own it's time to learn each number's conventional name.  Educators and students can say, "10  1 is eleven . . .  10  2 is twelve . . . 10  3 is thirteen," and so on.   We look forward to hearing what you and your students think of this teaching tip to better understand the teen numbers.