Understanding Base Ten

Advanced shortcuts often depend on an understanding of “base ten” - for example, understanding that 358 loose apples is the same as 3 packages of 100 apples, together with 5 packages of ten apples, together with 8 loose apples. If I have to take 124 apples away from those 358 apples, I can first take 1 of the 3 packages of 100, 2 of the 5 packages of ten, and 4 of the 8 loose apples. It is then easy to see that I will have 234 apples left.

Base ten blocks help children to see large numbers in this way. Here is a picture of 1 hundred-block and lots of tens and lots of ones.

Here are icons representing hundreds, tens and ones - in this case, 2 hundreds, 4 tens and 5 ones, or 245.

It is not hard for children to use activities like those below to learn to draw icons to represent the numbers that they are thinking about.

Click here to see an ad for my book about using base ten blocks and icons to represent them.