Place Value Snowman Art {Freebie}

Hi there friends. I have a little freebie for you this week! We have been working on place value and of course it's the middle of winter so were enjoying snowmen as well !
Place Value is fun to think about with this  Snowman Smart Art Freebie (4)
Here's what we did. Each child made a snowman and then represented the number 32 using four paper base ten blocks (value of40). I gave no directions. None. I told them think together and see what you come up with. If you think your idea can help the entire class, then raise your hand.
Do what
I have to tell you, there was a moment of pause/panic in some of my kids. “I have too many blocks!” said one child in a bewildered voice. Some of the children didn't know what to do without me giving them explicit directions. But my point was for them to think about the value of 32 using the base 10 blocks, not just make 32 from a pile of tens and a pile of ones. 
After a few seconds of pause one kid said, “ I know we can cut paper, so can I cut mine Mrs. Knight?” I shrugged and said, “Sure. Try it.” Then the class started to buzz.  The results were as smart and unique as each child.
Place Value is fun to think about with this  Snowman Smart Art Freebie (4) Place Value is fun to think about with this  Snowman Smart Art Freebie (5)
The next day we did this activity again, and I told the kids you cannot show 32 in the same way you did before. We glued their second way onto the back.
Place Value is fun to think about with this  Snowman Smart Art Freebie (9)
On the third day, I put up the sentence frame below.
Place Value is fun to think about with this  Snowman Smart Art Freebie
I asked the children what their opinion was. Are these blocks the same? Are these blocks different? I encourage them by letting them know that both the answers were correct and nobody's opinion would be wrong. But they needed to explain their opinion using the word “because”.
Place Value is fun to think about with this  Snowman Smart Art Freebie (2) 
Place Value is fun to think about with this  Snowman Smart Art Freebie (3)
In recent trainings at my district office I been learning how to help second-language learners as well as native English speakers become more proficient in the English language. One of the strategies they talked about was sentence frames. They challenged each one of us to go back to our classrooms and use a sentence frame in a way that we hadn't thought about using it before. I've used frames in writing, but I never have used sentence frames in math.
As a first grade teacher this did not freak me out, but their were teachers K-12 in the room. The high school teachers freaked, but they did their homework assignment and when we share our results I was amazed at how powerful these frames really were K-12.  Were the high school frames super complex? You bet!  Could I have participated better in 12th grade Computerized Robotics Class using a sentence frame.  Yes!
Sentence frames help:
  • The perfectionist who wants to get it right
  • The language learner who can think but struggles with articulation or being brave
  • The special needs student who writes poorly
  • The student who sits around all day listening to others but rarely contributes to the group
The list can go on and on.
Place Value is fun to think about with this  Snowman Smart Art Freebie (6)Place Value is fun to think about with this  Snowman Smart Art Freebie (7)
This activity also pointed out to my kids how easy it is to see differences vs. seeing similarities.  Few of my students thought that the blocks were the same. Many more thought they were different. Their reasoning was pretty fantastic too.
The great news is that this is a freebie. You all have supported me and helped me reach 2000 followers! I want to say thank you!  THANK YOU. If you are new to my blog you might want to follow, because I am cooking up some goodies you wont want to miss. Download now


  1. Fun idea! Love the 'rarely contributes to group' student...hello report card comment!

    1. I would LOVE to have that report card comment!

  2. I love sentence frames and use them often in kindergarten. If I provide the beginning of the sentence, they will take more risks if they don't have to sound out every word. Not so overwhelming. Oh, and those perfectionists! Sentence frames keep the tears from coming! Wonderful post!

    1. Sandy! I agree with you. Used to think it was not good instruction, but now I see the value in this sentence frame business for a quick write, deep think, and group share kind of deal. I love how when they answered me, it was in a complete sentence using the frame. This gets them used to writing and SPEAKING in complete sentences. I love it.

  3. This is fantastic! What an awesome learning experience on many levels! I can't wait to try it out! Thank you!

  4. LOVE this! Gonna go PIN it!!! :) Too good to not share with everyone I know! :)

  5. This is beautiful, just beautiful. Not too simple, but certainly not too difficult at this point in the year. I think that I will use this as a jumping start for my 40 minute observation! Seriously. :) I can do day 1 before the principal gets there, and then day 2 {on the 2nd day, of course!} when she does observe. That way, my kids can show her their genius smart answers and hard work! It will be wonderful.....Thanks for the great idea. And for the freebie! Love love love it!

  6. Love it!! Can't wait to use it with my firsties!!

  7. Your ideas are always so cute and simple. I love how you made them think. We are all the time just spitting directions at them so it's funny to think they were clueless for a minute with what to do! Too funny. Thanks for sharing!

    For the Love of First Grade

  8. Thank you so much for this wonderful freebie!! We are your newest followers and are so glad to have found you! We have been working with place value and base ten blocks in kindergarten with the teen numbers! This will be so much fun for our students to try out! Thank you again!
    Kelly and Kim’s Kindergarten Kreations

  9. I love this. Thanks for sharing! It is perfect timing since this is the skill I am teaching this week.


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