How to Use Base Ten Blocks to Teach Fractions

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What Fraction Game

Play this game as a whole group to introduce the concept of fractions. Divide your class into two groups to start the game. Count out how many flat base ten blocks you have in the classroom. Show your students how this number becomes the bottom of the fraction. Divide the flat base ten blocks between the two groups of students. Have each group count their blocks and represent that as a fraction of how many flat blocks there are total. For example, if there are 20 blocks total, and one group as 8, they would represent it as a fraction by writing 8 over 20. Continue the game by dividing the class into three, four and five groups to represent a variety of different fractions.

Base Ten Color-In

Before class, prepare several photocopies of long base ten blocks; the ones divided into ten squares. Give each student two or three long base ten blocks and a blank photocopy of the block. Challenge them to create fractions by filling in different numbers of squares in each block using a crayon or marker. Instruct them not to write the answer anywhere on their page. Once all the students have filled in their paper long base ten blocks, ask them to switch papers with a friend. Each student then represents each colored-in long base ten block as a fraction. Remind your students that the bottom number of each fraction will always be 10 since long base ten blocks are divided into 10 squares. Repeat the activity several times to reinforce the concept.

Count the Fraction

This activity makes use of several different colors of base ten blocks. Review how to write fractions with your students. Divide the class into groups of two or three students. Provide each group with a variety of base ten blocks in each color. Challenge each group to count how many of each color they have, and then divide each color among the members of the group. Each group member must then identify which fraction of each color of base ten blocks he has in front of him. Ask each group to share their fractions at the end of the activity.

Fraction Race

Before the lesson, prepare a five-by-five grid that includes several different blank base ten blocks, including longs and flats. Put one blank block pattern in each square. Make several grids so each student has a different combination of blank base ten blocks. Write several fractions that could be represented on a base ten block on small slips of paper. Include fractions like 1/2, 4/10 and 66/100. Place the slips of paper in a bowl or jar. Give each student a blank grid. As you call out a fraction, students must find the appropriate blank base ten block and color it in to represent the fraction. Play continues until a student gets five base ten blocks colored in a row. Ask that student to use the classroom base ten blocks to show students how he came up with his fractions.
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