Differentiated Math Fact Practice

Making Ten

4th Grade Resources

Fly in the Math Teacher's Wall. Place Value - a Solid Foundation

I'm joining some of my favorite math teacher-bloggers for a new blog hop -- Fly on the Math Teacher's Wall!  This month's topic is place value!  Scroll to the bottom to visit the next blog on the tour.

Hi, I'm Barbara Balius from Mrs Balius's First Grade.  It is so important to for students to have a sure sense of place value from the very beginning.  Here are some of the things that I do at the very beginning of first grade to ensure that they get the basics as I introduce place value.
The very first thing that I ask kids to do in the beginning of our place value discussion is ask them how they first learned to count.  Many of them with say that they first learned to count on their fingers.  I then ask them how high that they can count on their fingers.  They either immediately shout TEN, or sit and mentally count or count aloud their fingers.  But, hey eventually will say ten!  I say,  "Ten is the MOST important number to know!  It is a magic number!  Once we start using ten, we can do a whole lot of things!"   I love to get kids really excited about new concepts, and give them something to look forward too.  In this case, they may be asking themselves.  "Why is ten magic?"

I start our group discussing by giving students fifteen cubes.  I ask them to make a 10 train.  Then I ask then to tell me how many are left over.  I say, that we have one ten and 5 ones.  I have them practice with different numbers from eleven to fifteen making a ten and leftovers.
  The next step is to practice with more and more cubes with-in twenty.  We need a lot of practice at this first step.  We practice this step a LOT!  Go slowly.  This will form the basis of their place value understanding and is so important for their future place value understanding!
We also review the concept during "carpet math time".  I draw a series of dots from 11-15 on chart paper.  I ask them how I can make a ten with the dots.  We circle ten dots.  Then I ask how many are left over.  It is during our carpet math time that I begin to use other "representations" of the number.  We have already been using a ten frame, so I explain how we start another ten frame when we have more than ten.  I also introduce a tens and ones on a T-chart.  It is during this time that I start using place value  terminology.  "Fourteen is one ten and four ones".  Finally, I introduce expanded form.  These initial steps form the basis of the practice of multiple representation.  For multiple representation practice click here.
Very early on in our place value discussion, I introduce numbers more than 100.  Both and Common Core State Standards and the TEKS (Texas) require first graders to work with numbers up to 120.   Why is this a good idea?  
Check out this great post from The Math Coach's Corner: Take it Past 100.

We practice multiple representation the whole rest of the year!
During written math  practice at our desks,
During carpet time,
And as part of our Number of the Day practice.
We also practice filling out our 120 charts.  We do at least one per week the whole year as part of our Number of the Day practice.  The 120 chart is a valuable tool!  By filling them out, students begin to see patterns and the "bigger picture" relationship between numbers up to 120.
Anchor charts created with students:
Visual reminders of multiple representation.
Check out this Thanksgiving Number of the Day FREEBIE.
For more practice with multiple representation check out these units:
For the next stop on this little blog hop, visit Brandi at The Researched Based Classroom by clicking here:

Watch more more fun blog hops to come from these exceptional math teachers!


  1. The section titled "The Power of Ten" is right where my struggling firsties are right now. We have been building teen numbers with blocks but I love the dot drawings you created and how your students had to look for the group of ten. I will definitely be using this activity this week! (Or next, my to-do / to-try list from this blog hop is getting to be QUITE lengthy!!) The Math Spot

  2. I love how intentional you are with your instruction around teen numbers! It is great that you give so much time and attention to place value concepts.

    The Math Maniac

  3. Thanks for reinforcing the idea of using multiple representations of a number. You showed some great ways to do that.

  4. Great post! So many wonderful illustrations of how you teach your first graders. Your kids are luck to be immersed in this environment! :0)



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