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Place Value Blocks Teach Place Value

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Manipulatives Support Students with Disabilities in Math
Place Value Blocks Teach Place Value

Place Value Blocks

Jerry Webster

Place value blocks help students understand math concepts, especially place value. The smallest blocks are centimeter cubes. Rods are tens: and are marked each centimeter. Flats are ten by ten and represent hundreds. A large cube is equal to a thousand. A set will come with ten flats so students can compare hundreds to a thousand by stacking ten flats.

When teaching counting, have students compare ones to the ten by having students line up a row of tens. Have students do the same with rods and hundreds.

With students with disabilities, give them plenty of time to play with the blocks: I call it "getting it in their fingers." Once they have had an opportunity to play with the blocks, write numbers on the board, have students write the same numbers on white board slates, and place the corresponding ten rods and blocks on their slates. If you have enough sets of blocks, do the same with hundreds, tens and ones, and write the numbers on the board.

Other Suggested Activities:

  • Create laminated place value mats, with a place for ones, tens and hundreds. Write a three digit number on the board. Students will copy the three digits into the right columns with overhead pens or crayons, place the hundreds flats, tens rods and ones cubes on the mats. Have the children read the numbers to you.
  • Regrouping: Use the same number charts to write two numbers with regrouping in addition. Model the activity on the overhead or with an ELMO projector. Write the two addends, model the two sets of two or three digit numbers. Model the exchange of blocks for a rod or the rods for a flat, and count the sum. Do this several times before removing the blocks and doing the regrouping without.
  • Blindfold numbers. Partner your students. Blindfold one student. Have the other student pick hundreds, tens and ones and mix them up. Let the blind folded student sort them, and then using touch alone, identify the three digit number, which the student who chose the blocks has written on to a laminated place value mat. Have the students reverse roles.

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