Base Ten Blocks are a way for students to physically manipulate and visualize place value. One way to use Base Ten Blocks is to exchange a group of 10 units for one rod (representing 10), 10 rods for one flat (representing 100), and 10 flats for one cube (representing 1,000).
Base Ten Blocks can be used to show a number. A basic place value activity using Base Ten Blocks is to write a number and represent it using various blocks. This activity can be expanded into adding or subtracting numbers to highlight carrying or borrowing.
A popular game amongst younger students is Race For A Flat. Players take turns rolling number cubes and collecting the sum of the cubes in Base Ten Blocks. A player regroups (or trades) her Base Ten Blocks when she has collected more than ten of the smaller manipulative. The goal of the game is to earn a flat, worth 100 units, by regrouping smaller units. For students proficient in addition, start with a flat and subtract the sum of the number cubes for an activity that highlights borrowing. For older students, this game can be played using multiplication, with the goal of earning a cube, worth 1,000 units. In this variation, each student multiplies the numbers rolled and then adds the units she has earned, regrouping as necessary.