FREE Base Ten Blocks Activity For Building Number Sense
Get a free base ten blocks activity that will help you develop number sense in your students. This activity comes with a script so you know exactly how to use it.
I’ve often told the story of the day math started making sense.
I was 20! Yes, you read that right…TWENTY!
And I was in a college class learning how to teach subtraction with regrouping.
But instead of crossing off numbers, we used base ten blocks….and the light bulb came on.
Through my time in the classroom, and now teaching my own children, I decided to be very intentional about building number sense.
And while I was doing that, an amazing thing happened. My number sense strengthened. And math I could have never done before, I was doing. Doing it in my head!!
Building Number Sense with Base Ten Blocks
I begin this by saying there are SOOOO many ways to build number sense (check out some of them here), but sense base ten blocks were so instrumental in my understanding of numbers that is where our focus is for today.
What are base ten blocks?
Base ten blocks are one way to allow children to visualize what each digit in a number represents.
So let’s say I have the number 234.
It is essential that our children understand that the 2 is not really a 2. You see, it is in the hundreds place so it really is 200.
Base ten blocks help are children see this.
For this base ten blocks activity, we are going to have the cubes represent the ones place. (With our older kids we change the value and make a cube represent the tenths or hundredths place in a decimal.)
That means whatever number is in the ones place that is how many cubes I need.
So if I’m building 234, the four is in the ones place so I need four cubes.
Now let’s take a look at the longs. How many cubes do you see?
Yep, there are 10 cubes in a long, so the longs represent one place value to the left of our cubes. Since our cubes represent the ones for today, the longs will represent our tens place.
Looking back at the number 234, the 3 is in the tens place so I need three longs.
Now at this point, we need to emphasize that the three is not really a three, it is 30 in disguise!
Finally, we reach the flats.
How many longs do you see? How many cubes?
You should see that there is 10 longs in a flat. This means that a flat is always one digit to the left of the long.
And you also should have noticed that there are 100 cubes. The flat will ALWAYS be digits to the left of the cubes.
Jumping back to 234, we see a two one digit to the left of our 3 (how many longs we have). So we get to grab 2 flats or 200!
Once again it is essential that we are not calling the 2 a two. Our children need to understand that the 2 represents 200.
Simple questions like the following will help our young children begin to understand place value.
- How many cubes are in a flat?
- How many flats do we have?
- Let’s count by 100. (100, 200, the 2 is really 200!!!!)
Base Ten Blocks Activity
Now that we understand what base ten blocks are, we can move into a base ten block activity that will get children building and writing numbers. (free printable at the end of the post)
This activity is part of my 30 Scripted Building Numbers Sense lessons.
This free scripted lesson will take you through how to introduce the concept, what questions to ask while the children are doing the lesson, and how to close this lesson.
It is so simple and easy for you to use, but your children will be building a strong number sense in the process.
And if you like how this base ten block activity is laid out, then you may want to check out the other 29 lessons. There are 10 scripted lessons on base ten blocks, 10 on the hundreds chart, 5 number line activities, and five decomposing activities. And everything is scripted so you know exactly what to say and do during the lesson.
I can’t wait to hear how this base ten block activity worked for you!!!