Lesson Plan

Base-Ten Blocks

Use this lesson to introduce the tool of base-ten blocks to your students. This scaffolded EL support lesson can be used as a stand-alone activity, or prior to teaching Three-Digit Addition with Base-Ten Models.
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Three-Digit Addition with Base-Ten Models lesson plan.
View aligned standards
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Three-Digit Addition with Base-Ten Models lesson plan.



Students will be able to understand that the three digits of a three-digit number represent amounts of hundreds, tens, and ones.


Students will be able to explain how many hundreds, tens, and ones they need to create a three-digit number with content-specific vocabulary using partnerships and place value mats for support.


(5 minutes)
Place Value Mat: Three-Digit NumbersI Have, Can You?Vocabulary Cards: Base-Ten BlocksGlossary: Base-Ten BlocksTeach Background Knowledge TemplateWrite Student-Facing Language Objectives Reference
  • Write 483 on the whiteboard.
  • Pass out personal whiteboards and a whiteboard marker to each student.
  • Say, "If you were going to show me how much 383 is worth, how might you do that? I want you to think about tools and strategies that might work. Draw a picture or write down words and phrases that explain your thinking. Your answer doesn't have to be correct! I want you to think about what you know about place value to come up with some ideas. If you aren't sure, check in with a partner for support."
  • Give students two minutes to jot down their ideas (discuss their ideas with their peers if necessary).
  • Allow a few students to share out their ideas. Do not correct their answers, simply allow students to share their thoughts without the pressure of being correct. Jot down their ideas on the whiteboard and expand their ideas as appropriate by offering and recording other strategies such as a place value mat, sketching base-ten blocks, using base-ten blocks, writing the number in expanded form, etc.
  • Encourage students to compare and contrast the displayed methods, if applicable. Ask probing questions such as:
    • Which strategy would be the easiest to use?
    • Which strategy (or strategies) would show the values in a visual way?
    • Which strategy would you like to try?
  • Clarify that three-digit numbers are numbers with a value in the ones place, a value in the tens place, and a value in the hundreds place.
  • Explain to the students that today they will be exploring how to use base-ten blocks to represent base-ten numerals.

Related Guided Lesson

Place Value 3

9 games
1 song video
5 printable worksheets
second grade
Subject Math