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What are Base 10 Blocks?

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  • 0:03 Base 10 Blocks: Defined
  • 1:10 Types of Blocks
  • 3:22 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Heather Jenkins

Heather has a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in special education. She was a public school teacher and administrator for 11 years.

Sometimes it can be hard to visualize what numbers look like. Base 10 blocks were created to help students see what numbers look like and understand their value. In this lesson, you will learn all about base 10 blocks and how they are used.

What Are Base 10 Blocks?

Have you ever tried counting to 1,000? If you've ever tried, you probably found that you ran out of fingers and toes to count pretty quickly. Visualizing numbers, especially large numbers, can be difficult. For instance, it's not too difficult to find ten pieces of candy to see what that number looks like; however, if you are using a number such as 7,267, finding that many pieces of candy may be difficult, and it takes a long time to count each one. Not to mention, you might get a stomach ache if you tried to eat them!

Base 10 blocks are a set of four different types of blocks that, when used together, can help you to see what a number looks like and understand its value. Additionally, base 10 blocks can be used to help understand addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, volume, perimeter, and area. These blocks include unit blocks, rods, flats, and cubes. Together, the blocks allow you to literally build a number so you can see and touch it.

Types of Blocks

Each type of block in the base 10 system has a different place value. Place value is the value that we assign a digit in a specific position of a number to tell us how much it's worth. For example, the 2 in 325 represents two groups of ten. Base 10 blocks show place values in the ones, tens, hundreds, and thousands, with each type of block representing one of these values.

Unit Block

The smallest block is called a unit block. It is worth one unit and represents the ones place value. If you decided to eat seven double cheeseburgers for dinner and wanted to build that number, you would count out seven unit blocks because there are seven ones in the number seven. Also, you may not have room for dessert after all those burgers!

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