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Grade 2: A Hands-On Math Challenge - “What’s In Your 12?”

During their unit on place value this month, second graders got to complete a hands-on and thought-provoking math activity called “What’s In Your 12?” inspired by the book “Mindset Mathematics” by Jo Boaler.
In class, second graders have been using place value blocks to represent numbers. Place value blocks are tools that represent ones, tens, and hundreds so students are able to identify the different values each place value holds. During this particular challenge, students were asked to use 12 place value blocks to create as many different number combinations as possible, organize their thinking, and look for patterns. Using 12 place value blocks challenged students to regroup at times by turning 10 ones into a ten or 10 tens into a hundred, for example.

To start, students were shown place value blocks and asked what they noticed, such as, “If I have 12 place value blocks, what number might I have?” (Example: “I could have two 100s, three 10s, and seven 1s for a total of 12 place value blocks that represent the number 237.”) After discussing possible solutions, students split into pairs and received place value blocks to come up with their own combinations and explore questions such as:
  • What numbers are possible?
  • What numbers are not possible?
  • What are all of the possible solutions?
  • How can we find new solutions?
  • How can our solutions be organized?
For each number they created with the place value blocks, students recorded the blocks used and the value of the collection of the 12 blocks. To end the challenge, the second graders gathered as a class and shared the solutions they found as well as helpful tips and tricks they discovered. Way to persevere, Grade 2! 


Graland Country Day School

Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1927, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.