Using Base Ten Blocks to Boost Math Learning

Base ten blocks are the featured manipulative in Litamatics Math Theme 2: Number and Operations in Base Ten.  At LitART, we use actual base ten blocks so learners can enjoy the tactile experience of physically manipulating the ones, tens, and hundreds, but you can try a sample Litamatics Math activity using the virtual version of base ten blocks found below.

Grade 3-6:  Roll, Record, Represent, and Round
Let’s play Roll, Record, Represent, and Round.  Try to create the highest score possible on each turn.  Whoever creates and represents the highest score wins the round.

Here’s how to play.  Roll three ten-sided dice.  Write the result as a three-digit number.  For example, if you roll a 3, 6, and 9, you could choose from among the results 369, 396, 639, 693, 963, or 936.  Choose the number that gives you the highest score and write it on your scorecard.

       Allow time.  Observe.  Provide support as needed.

The largest number possible was 963.  Let’s gather base ten blocks to represent the number 963.   How many hundreds do you need?

       Allow for responses.

You need nine hundreds.  How many tens do you need?

       Allow for responses.

You need six tens.  How many ones do you need?

       Allow for responses.

You need three ones.  Okay, we did it!  Now let’s round our score to the nearest hundred.  For example, to round 963 to the nearest hundred check the tens place.  If it is 5 or greater, round up to the next hundred.  If it is 4 or lower, leave the hundreds place as-is.  What is 963 rounded to the nearest hundred?

       Allow for responses.

The result is 1,000 because the number in the tens place is five or greater (and 963 is closer to 1,000 than 900.)  Now round 963 to the nearest ten.  To round to the nearest ten, look at the digit in the ones place.  If it is 5 or greater, round up.

       Allow for responses.

The result is 960 because there is a 3 in the ones place and 3 is less than 5 (and 63 is closer to 60 than to 70.)   It is okay if you are not sure how to round yet because we are playing this game to explore base ten and rounding!  Try one on your own before we start the game.

       Invite students to roll, record, represent, and round. 

       Observe.  Provide support as needed.

It looks like everyone knows how to play.  Compare scores after each player rolls, records, represents, and rounds.  Who had the higher score?  Do the base ten blocks help you visual the quantities?

       Allow for responses.

Now let’s play a few rounds.

       Observe.  Provide support and clarification as needed. 

       Ask questions to encourage mathematical thinking and communication. 

We all want math learning to be fun, engaging, and effective.  Base ten blocks can be used successfully in grades K-8 to explore math concepts throughout the standards including Number and Algebraic Relationships, Number and Operations in Base Ten, Measurement, Geometry, Fractions, Data, Probability, Problem Solving, and more.  Litamatics Math includes base ten blocks, dice, tangrams, craft sticks, Unifix Cubes, and hundreds of other math manipulatives to engage learners in fun math activities connected to award winning books.