menu   home About Me Shop Contact Me My Classroom  

Understanding Base Ten: Ideas for Alternative Assessments

How well do your students understand "base ten"? 

Here are a few ideas to give them a lot of quality practice, and to give you ways to assess what they know.

1- The Number Poster Activity (Takes a couple of days.)

  • Give students a large piece of construction paper, and a paper circle. Ask them to choose a number from 11 through 50 and write it "really big" on the circle. 
  • Fold the large construction paper into 4 parts, then glue the circle in the middle.

Numbers in Different Ways: Ideas for Alternative Assessments
  • Model how to cut "tens and ones" out of yellow construction paper, and ask your kids to make their number using Base Ten paper blocks. I actually had my own example on the board to show kids exactly what to do.
Numbers in Different Ways: Ideas for Alternative Assessments
  • On day 2, model how to cut little thin strips of black construction paper to make tally marks. Model how to glue them on your example, then have kids work on their own numbers.
  • Next, distribute pieces of red paper in which kids will make groups of ten to represent their number. Show students how to cut the little white squares to make just enough to represent their number, and let them know that they might have left over white squares.
Numbers in Different Ways: Ideas for Alternative Assessments
  • Last, give out little labels and have students write the word that represents each number.
Here's what my final product looked like.

Numbers in Different Ways: Ideas for Alternative Assessments

And one more...

Numbers in Different Ways: Ideas for Alternative Assessments

The two biggest problems I found were with the tally marks and the groups of ten. Many students couldn't stop counting by tens after making the base ten blocks. They would point at a tally bundle and say "ten". Some would count every single tally instead of saying "five". That was a fabulous way for me to see the depth of knowledge of each of my students. 

Many of my students tried to glue all of their little quite squares onto the "red mats". They did not grasp the fact that when you group ones into tens, there might be left overs. That was SO interesting to see, because they represented their numbers perfectly with the base ten blocks...

2 - Ordering Numbers Made With Base Ten Blocks

This is one of my students' favorite things to do. When I bring out the Base Ten flashcards, they can't wait to go to their Math Centers!

Numbers in Different Ways: Ideas for Alternative Assessments

I am usually working with a small group while my other students are working in their centers, but I can very easily look up and see how quickly and effectively a student is handling this activity. It gives me great information about how well they understand the Base Ten system.

Numbers in Different Ways: Ideas for Alternative Assessments

Another fun thing to do, is to give one student the Base Ten flashcards, and another student the Tally Marks flashcards. As one student places his flashcard on the pocket chart, the other one has to match it!
I don't take a grade on this activity, but I use what I notice to form my small groups. 


I can help you with Place Value resources if you'd like! Here are some links to great packets available at Frogs, Fairies, and Lesson Plans!

  • For the Base Ten Blocks Flashcards, click here.
  • For a complete Place Value Practice Packet, click here.
  • For a FREE SAMPLE of Math Practice resources, click here!
Base Ten Blocks Flashcards
Base Ten Blocks and Tally Marks Flashcards

If you want to keep this information fresh all year you can assign homework that constantly reviews learned skills. This is the homework I have in case you are interested. It's 100% Common Core aligned! There is a FREE SAMPLE available for each packet when you check the resource pages. 

1st Grade Math Homework

2nd Grade Math Homework

3rd Grade Math Homework