All Hail the Place Value System!

Place Value is the system that allows us to use the same 10 digits to represent any number by using the position in the digit to represent it’s value. That means 5 in the ones postion means five, but the same digit in the tens position (50) means fifty.

I won’t rant and rave about how amazing a step forward a place value system is. Or the awesomeness of the concept of 0

I will point out that having a good understanding of the place value system is an important key component to actually GETTING mathematics. (As opposed to being able to follow the steps in solving a problem, but having no idea how it works!) And while there are plenty of other ways to learn place value,  I really like the good old MAB blocks.

MAB blocks have been around for ever. You probably used them. They are still around because they work.

As with any new manipulative, I usually just introduce them in free play first. I try to let the child discover what they can in the material. What does it do? Then you can use them in a great variety of games to practice trading and place value. As children grow, MAB blocks can be used for decimals and percentages too, as well as learning algorithms. As far as manipulatives go, they aren’t too badly priced for something with such a long useful lifespan.

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