Place value can be such a fun math concept to teach! Read on for a hands-on place value activity… using nuts and bolts!
Today I’m sharing a free printable activity to help kindergartners understand place value. It’s my third post in our weekly K-2 Math Activities series.
To make our place value activity very concrete – and add in some fine motor skills at the same time – I decided that we’d make our own base ten blocks using nuts and bolts.
When I opened the packages and started screwing the nuts onto the bolts – to make ten rods with ten nuts on each – I realized this was going to be time-consuming. I had my doubts about whether this was a good idea after all.
I needn’t have worried! My Five and Seven (pictured), along with my Four, eagerly sat at the table and screwed ten nuts onto each bolt. We were finished in about fifteen minutes, and they’d happily have completed more of them!
Playing with nuts and bolts is such a great fine motor activity for little hands.
The next day, I pulled out the DIY base ten rods, a pile of loose nuts, and the number mat and cards you’ll find in the download at the end of this post.
To begin, I asked my Five to tell me how many nuts were on a bolt. He counted them, and then remembered that each bolt had ten nuts screwed onto it. He then counted the nuts by ten. “10, 20, 30, 40…”
Next, I showed him how to choose a number card, place it on the sign, and build that number using the nuts and bolts. He caught on very quickly.
He preferred to do the big numbers.
But we also pulled out numbers without any ones.
And it was satisfying to count out so many ones for the number 19.
Truthfully, my Five had resisted doing a learning activity with me (as he so often does). But he loved working with the nuts and bolts, and we were busy for quite some time.
My husband was able to purchase all the materials for about $6 at our local hardware store. In the classroom, you could easily make a single set for a learning center. If you’d like to try a different material for the base ten blocks (or need a much larger quantity), check out the ideas below!
What else could you use for base ten blocks?
- Purchase base ten blocks online
- Put beads onto pipe cleaners
- Make base ten blocks with Wikki sticks
- Make them with craft sticks and dried beans
- Use legos to make the blocks
Get your free place value mat!
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