Sunday, February 5, 2017

Hands-On Math: Base Ten Blocks

Hands-On Math is a blog series where I highlight a math manipulative or tool that I use in my 4th grade classroom. The posts will include links to purchase the tools from Amazon. Please be aware that these are affiliate links. I only recommend tools that I have used and loved myself!

What are Base Ten Blocks?
Base Ten Blocks are typically used for place value as they exemplify our base-ten numerical system. However, there are TONS of other ways to use them. Most sets will come with a thousands cube, hundreds flats, tens rods and ones cubes/units

How do I use them in 4th grade?
Big kids still benefit from concrete experiences for math. One way that I have used base ten blocks is to have students build multiplication problems. This comes at the beginning of our lessons on how to multiply two 2-digit numbers together. We use the base ten blocks to model the array model for multiplication. This provides kids with the concrete experience before moving to the pictorial area model and finally to the abstract traditional algorithm. 

We use centimeter grid paper to set up the problem. I got our grid paper from the ETA book that came with the blocks (see link below). First we outline an array to represent our problem. Then starting with a hundreds flat we fill in the array with blocks. Again starting with the hundreds block, we take away a section at a time and write a multiplication sentence for that section. Finally, we add all of the numbers up. 

Ready to try it? 
Get a starter kit from Amazon to use with your small groups. Click the picture below to check it out on Amazon!