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Using the Place Mat to Tell How Many

Focus Using the Place mat and Digit Flip Cards to


find a numbers base ten representation
hile the Counter provides a clear visual view of a number in its base ten representation, it does not allow us to see more than 9 blocks in the same place. Yet such a situation often occurs in the intermediate steps of a computation, for example, in addition or subtraction with regrouping. The Digi-Block Place mat does allow children to organize blocks in places and to have more than 9 in each place. To emphasize that this is a temporary arrangement, children write the number of blocks in each place at the top of the mat. (The numbers are written in front of the words hundreds, tens, and ones.)

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Children can use a Place mat to organize amounts that are not yet completely packed (such as 3 hundreds, 4 tens, and 12 ones).

To show the base ten representation of this amount, children must set a Digit Flip Card at the bottom of each place. These cards are used just like the dials on the Counter. Because each set of cards contains only the digits 09, children see that they must pack the blocks so that there are not more than 9 of a kind in any place. The Place mat is somewhat more abstract than the Counter (there are no holders to show which type block goes where, and there is no eject mechanism). Thus it serves as an intermediate step between the Counter and the abstraction of numbers on paper. Note that if you prefer to limit this investigation to two-digit numbers, you can simply fold under the hundreds column on the Place mat.

Organizing Blocks on the Place Mat


Have children place a group of blocks that includes blocks-of-100, blocks-of10, and singles, but no more than 9 of any kind, on the mat. The sole purpose of this activity is for children to put each kind of block in the correct place. Then have children set the Digit Flip Cards to represent the number. Ask children to tell the number in Digi-language (for example, 3 blocks-of-100, 5 blocks-of-10, and 4 ones). Then ask,

What number does this show?


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Repeat this sequence many times. Be sure to include sets of blocks that have only hundreds and ones (no tens), or only hundreds and tens (no ones). To help children see that the three digits on the f lip cards represent a single number, suggest that they push the cards together and tell the number name. Next distribute the Mat Activity Paper (Activity Sheet 5). Have the children place 6 blocks-of-10 and 15 ones on a Place mat, and then use stamps or draw pictures on the mat activity paper to show the arrangement they have. Have the children use the Digit Flip Cards to set the digits. Many children may be perplexed initially; after all, there is no single card that shows 15. Some children may f lip the cards over and over looking for the number 15. Others may try to put two cards under the ones place. (Emphasize that only one card may be used in each place.) Do not hurry the children as they struggle with this problem. Realizing that they must pack in order to set the digits is an important point that they should discover for themselves. If children have trouble thinking about what they should do, ask them to imagine what would happen if they put the blocks on the Counter. If possible, let the children actually do that. When they have packed the blocks and set the digits, have the children show how the arrangement changes on their activity mat paper. They can also fill in the Digit Flip Cards pictured on this sheet. Have them discuss their work and share their representations.
This childs work on Mat Activity Paper shows how he set the digits for 6 blocks-of-10 and 15 ones.

Continue with further work on the Place mats, asking children to place various groups of blocks that require packing in order to set the digits. Eventually, have children place 2 blocks-of-100, 14 blocks-of-10, and 27 ones on their mats. This example has the children packing twice to set the digits.

Predicting the Base Ten Representation


When the children are comfortable with showing numbers on the Place mat, have them predict how groups of blocks will pack before they actually do it. The ability to make such predictions will serve children well in their computation work.

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For example, have children put 4 blocks-of-100, 12 blocks-of-10, and 4 singles on their mats. Say,

Think about how these blocks will look when they are packed as much as possible. Set your Digit Flip Cards to predict what will be on the Place mat.
Once they have set the cards, children can turn them face down to eliminate any distraction while packing. Then the children pack the blocks to check their thinking. Provide many examples over time, and have the children explain how they can predict what the cards should be.

Exploring Equivalent Representations


With the Place mat, children can find many different ways to represent the same number. Assign each group of children one of the following sets of blocks: 14 blocks-of-10, 14 singles 12 blocks-of-10, 34 singles 1 block-of-100, 1 block-of-10, 44 singles 10 blocks-of-10, 54 singles Have children place the blocks on their mats and record what they have. Then ask the children to set the digits with the f lip cards (they will discover that they need to pack first) and record the number. Each group will find that they have the same amount (154 blocks), although it was originally represented in four different ways.

Practicing Key Ideas


Mat Predictions
Children work in pairs. One child places some blocks on the Place mat, being sure to place more than 9 blocks of at least one size. The other child sets the Digit Flip Cards to show how the blocks will look when packed. Children then turn the flip cards face down and pack the blocks. When the blocks are packed, the children turn the cards face up to check the prediction. Pairs can repeat the activity, reversing roles.

Go to Stop
Have each group of children begin with the same number of blocks (for example, 2 blocks-of-100, 5 blocks-of-10, and 3 single blocks). When you say Go, children begin to unpack their collections. The unpacking continues until you say Stop. At that point children count the number of blocks of each size that they have. Groups then record their findings on the board or on chart paper for all to see. Have children discuss the different representations of the same number.
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Assessing Learning
1. Provide a collection of blocks and ask the child to put them on the Place mat, set the digits with the f lip cards, and tell the number. Does the child place the blocks, set the cards, and tell the number correctly when given between 1 and 9 blocks of each size? do so when there are no blocks in at least one of the places? do so when given more than 9 blocks of one size? of two sizes? 2. Provide a collection of blocks and ask the child to set the digits with the flip cards to predict how the blocks will look on the Place mat. Does the child predict correctly when given between 1 and 9 blocks of each size? predict correctly when given more than 9 blocks of one size? of two sizes? 3. Show 3 blocks-of-10 and 5 singles on one mat and 2 blocks-of-10 and 15 singles on a second mat. Ask,

Is one number more or less than the other, or are they the same?
Does the child answer correctly? predict or pack to check?

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