Young students often think of numbers much differently than we do. In fact, math concepts in general are quite abstract. Our little learners need something concrete to help them grasp an understanding of the abstract. Que base ten blocks! A visual element that our student can see, touch, draw and manipulate helps them process the abstract concepts. I am excited to share with you some great ways to teach place value with Base Ten blocks.
Base Ten blocks are an engaging way to teach place value, measurements, number concepts, and more. They provide students with a way to process concepts in a very hands-on way. These small blocks represent numbers and are perfectly aligned to our base ten place value system.
By giving students a visual representation of what a number stands for, they can start to develop and understand more abstract concepts. This allows them to develop a deep understanding of what they are learning and build a solid foundation for years of future math. Base Ten blocks help with a variety of skills like adding, subtracting, counting, and place value. They are multi-purpose and can be used over and over again in the classroom.
Base Ten Blocks Anchor Chart
Anchor Charts are a great way to introduce a new concept to students. In this activity, students create an anchor chart with you to help them learn about the base ten blocks.
I have even given them names, Bit Bob, Roddy Rod, and Franky Flat. This not only helps students remember them more easily, but it adds some personification which helps students to connect to the math characters!
This is a wonderfully collaborative and visual activity for students to create together with you. Because your students need to piece together the 100 flat and 10 rods, they get valuable practice even when they are just starting to learn this new concept.
Each character has a little saying that will help students remember them name, their value and what is needed to move up to the next level.
Once we have the chart put together, I like to introduce the concept of building numbers with place value blocks. I start by asking a question like: “If I wanted to make 1 which block would I need?” The students are quick to identify Bob (the one cube character). But then I start to build on the concept and ask “what if I wanted to make 2?” The kids might look to the anchor chart and notice that 2 is not an option. But eventually, someone will bring up the idea of two cubes. Then it’s time to celebrate!
I continue to build on this basic understanding by trying a few different numbers. Depending on the numbers I’ve already taught in class, I may or may not delve into teen numbers at this time. But no matter what, the foundational concept has been introduced.
By continuing to practice this strategy together as a class, students can develop an understanding of how to apply it on their own.
Base Ten Student Crafts
Crafts are always a favorite in my classroom, so when I get the opportunity to use a craft to help teach a new concept to my students I get excited too. I use three crafts spread out throughout the course of our base ten unit to help my students understand the different types of base ten blocks they will be using.
I always start out with the One Bit Student Craft. Just like you would use scaffolding in any other subject area, the same technique is important when introducing base ten to your students. Using the one bit character templates, your students will create “Bit Bob”. Using bit pieces, students can complete the worksheet and attach Bit Bob to it.
The Base Ten Block craft comes next. Students will use the templates to create a Roddy Rod character to attach to their base ten block practice. For this activity, make sure base ten blocks are available for them to work with. They will only need 10 rods for this particular activity. You can have students work in groups, or individually for this project, either works great. They will build each amount listed, and then draw it out for each number as well. This gives them both a visual and hands-on look at place value.
Lastly, your students will make the Base Ten Blocks Hundreds Flat Craft. For this craftivity, they will need flats and rods. This is also a great project to do in groups of students or let them work independently. They will build each of the amounts listed on the worksheet with their blocks and then draw and color them. Doing it both ways really helps them comprehend the concept of place value!
Students love crafts and drawing so this activity is always a winner!
Place Value Mats
In addition to using the worksheets as part of the craftivities, you can also use them as place value mats. Use with base ten blocks to make it simple and easy for students to maneuver and count blocks while learning.
The Base Ten blocks help to represent the numbers visually while students work through the practice problems on each place value mat. Using tactile and visual learning together will help all of your unique learners grasp this new concept.
Place value mats are perfect for differentiation as you are able to assign specific mats for students to complete based on their level of understanding. They are also great to use in centers, as a partnered activity, small group work, or individual practice.
Because the mats can be laminated, they are easy to use over and over again each year. Just put them in a folder with a baggie of base ten blocks, a vis-a-vis or dry-erase marker, and a piece of cloth to wipe the mat clean.
You can also make copies of the laminated base ten mats for students for take-home practice.
Introducing Place Value in the Classroom
When it comes to introducing a new concept like place value, it can be tricky. But using tools like base ten blocks makes it so much more engaging and hands-on for students. Through activities like the interactive anchor chart and crafts, you can easily introduce this new math concept to your students! Combining fun crafts with each worksheet also make it fun and exciting for students to complete. Make sure you grab these awesome resources for teaching place value!
Save These Engaging Math Tips for Later!
Pin these activities to your favorite classroom Pinterest board so you can come back when you need ideas for teaching with base ten blocks or other important concepts in the primary classroom.