After teaching in a public school I got used to having any math manipulative I could think of available to me. We had sets of unifix cubes, counters, fraction bars, pattern blocks, etc. Every new math curriculum that schools adopt comes with a ton of new manipulative resources to help you teach the kids! I knew when I started homeschooling that, unless I wanted to spend a lot of money on math materials, I needed to get creative! Place value is a math concept that is very important for kids to fully understand. When I was teaching every kid had a nice little set of place value blocks like this:
These Base Ten Blocks are a great resource. However, I like to save as much money as possible, when homeschooling, and if I can find away to teach something without spending money, that’s what I do! I want to share with you my favorite way to teach place value! It’s inexpensive, easy, and the kids get to make their own set of base ten counters helping them understand place value even more!
How to make your own Base Ten Counters:
1. Gather Materials
All you need are some dried beans (any kind will do), regular popsicle sticks, and glue. If you don’t have these on hand, just head to the Wal-mart, The Dollar Tree or click on the links to have them sent to you from Amazon.
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Take your bottle of glue and glue all the way down a popsicle stick.
3. Place the Beans
Count out 10 beans and place them all the way down your popsicle stick. If your beans are larger, you may have to turn the beans different ways to get them to fit. If they are smaller spread them out a little so they fill up the entire stick.
Continue gluing beans on sticks until you have as many tens sticks as you need. (If you are just beginning place value you will need no more than 10). Let your counters dry and then start practicing building numbers with your brand new tens and ones counters! (Keep some single beans out to use as ones.) Use this time to teach your kids about place value. Teach them how to count each individual bean by ones, and the sticks of beans as tens.
Now Add One Hundred Blocks!
When your kids are ready to take it a step further, here is an easy way to make one hundred counters using the same method!
1. Get 10 Sticks
Line up ten sticks side by side. Use a ruler or another stick on the top to make sure they are straight and right next to each other.
2. Glue them together
Glue all the way down 2 popsicle sticks. Place one popsicle stick at the top and one popsicle stick at the bottom of your set of 10 sticks.
3. More glue!
After the glue as dried a little, turn your set of 10 sticks over. Glue all the way down each of the 10 sticks.
4. Place 100 beans
Put ten beans down each of the popsicle sticks in your set. When you have finished you will will have placed 100 beans!
Repeat this process to make as many hundreds as you want with you kids! Let your hundred counters dry and then start practicing more place value!
I first made these bean base 10 blocks with my oldest son when we started learning about place value a few years ago. I made them again last year with my 5 year old. We still use these counters regularly as we learn new concepts in math. Recently, Big D (7 years old) was using them to practice subtraction with regrouping. My boys loved making our base ten bean counters and still enjoy using them each time we practice place value.
Below I have also provided a simple printable place value work-mat. Just print out this pdf file laminate it so it is reusable, and you can easily start practicing place value. If you don’t have a laminator, I definitely recommend it! It’s one of my essentials for homeschooling!
I hope you and your kids enjoy these DIY Base-Ten counters as much as we do! If you have any questions or comments please leave them below! Thanks!!