One way that students in fourth and fifth grade can use base ten blocks is for creating arrays and area models. The use of the base ten blocks models how place value concepts continue to work when multiplying and dividing. Using the base ten blocks in this way will also help prepare students to use algebra tiles later on.
|This alternate key for interpreting base ten blocks |
can be used with older students to allow
the modeling of decimals!
|This area model created using base 10 blocks shows|
the expression 44 x 17 when using the standard key,
but when using the alternate key shown above, this
model shows the expression 4.4 x 1.7.
Before using base ten blocks to create area models in your classroom with your students, make sure to practice some on your own or with a colleague. Although technically possible to represent 3 digit by 2 digit multiplication expressions, these models are very complex and are actually 3D models that require the use of the large cube. For these models, you will want to stick with, at most, 2 digit by 2 digit multiplication expressions. By looking at the example above, you can see how the pieces line up.
How do you use base ten blocks in your classroom?