menu   Home Answers Math Games Free Resources Contact Me  

A Perfect Ten - Why Our Number System is Called Base Ten

Don't you love tests where you ask a question which you believe everyone will get correct, and then find out it just isn't so?  I gave my algebra college students a pretest to see what they knew and didn't know.  One of the first questions was:  Why is our number system called Base Ten?  This is an extremely important concept as it reveals what they know about place value.  Below are some of the answers I received.

1)  It is called Base Ten because we have ten fingers.  (Yikes! If that is so, should we include our toes as well?)

2)  It is called Base Ten because I think you multiply by ten when you move past the decimal sign.  (Well, sort of.  You do multiply by ten when you move to the left of the decimal sign, going from the ones place, to the tens place, to the hundreds place, etc.)

3)  I think it is called Base Ten because it's something we use everyday.  (Really????)

Enough!  It is called Base Ten because we use ten digits (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9) to write all of the other numbers.  Each digit can have one of ten values: any number from 0 through 9. When the value reaches 9, just before 10, it starts over at zero again.  (Notice the pattern below.)

0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, etc.


In addition, each place is worth ten times more than the last. Ten is worth ten times more than 1, and 1,000 is ten times more than 100. The pattern continues infinitely both ways on a number line.

The decimal point allows for the place value to continue in a consistent pattern with numbers smaller than one. As we move to the right of the decimal point, each place is divided by ten to get to the next place value. One hundredth is one tenth divided by ten, and one thousandth is one hundredth divided by ten. The pattern goes on infinitely.

100's, 10's, 1's . 0.1, 0.01, 0.001, 0.0001, 0.00001, etc.

Since all mathematics is based on patterns, this should not be a new revelation. Perhaps on the post-test, my students will omit the fingers and instead rely on patterns to answer the questions!

Learn by Heart - Heart Rebus Puzzles

Valentine's Day is fast approaching. Here is a fun February activity which uses heart rebus puzzles. It is called Hearts and Valentines. This resource is 13 pages and features 24 heart rebuses (idioms) that represent familiar expressions that contain the word "heart". (e.g. From the Bottom of My Heart or Cross My Heart) Each illustration uses a picture or symbol to represent a word or phrase. The students must use logic and reasoning skills to solve the 24 rebuses (idioms).

Each day during the month of February, put up one heart illustration as a student focus activity, OR, if you choose, place two or three up at one time or display all of them up at the same time. Students are to figure out which heart expression each heart picture represents. Below are four examples from the resource. Can you figure out the answers?

Hearts and Valentines

I have stumped you? Perhaps you just don't have the heart to do it or maybe your heart simply isn't in it. If you give up, you'll find the answers on the page entitled Answers to Problems. (Look at the bar at the top of this blog post.)

As you have discovered, this can be a fun, but also very challenging Valentine's Day activity! If you would like more information about this resource, just click the title under the pictures above. And.... Happy Valentine's Day from the bottom of my heart!

FREE E-Book Full of Ideas for February

FREE E-Book
Add some Valentine’s Day fun to your regular curriculum with these free lessons by The Best of Teacher Entrepreneurs Marketing Cooperative! Download this FREE 22 page resource that includes ideas for kindergarten through high school for the month of February. Included in this E-Book are:
  • Let’s Count for Love! (11-20)
  • Editable 100 Days Smarter Bracelets FREEBIE
  • Valentine’s Day Cards for Teacher’s Activity
  • Valentine Write the Room Counting Set: 10-20 Sample Set
  • Valentine’s Day Haiku Poem Activity
  • Llama Love Time Capsule - Valentine FREEBIE
  • FREE Valentine Addition Task Cards (QR Code, Self Check, NO PREP)
  • Venn Valentine Greetings
  • 3rd Grade Math for February - FREEBIE
  • FREE Valentine’s Day Color by Parts of Speech Mystery Pictures with Worksheet
  • Grateful Gnomes FREE Sample
  • Kindness Cards - An Activity Accentuating Positive Personality Traits
  • Hearts and Valentines - A FREE Rebus Puzzle Activity for February
  • History of Valentine’s Day: FREE Informational Text Passage
  • Practice Correcting Run-on Sentences for Valentine’s Day
  • More Free Lessons
Simply download the E-book and then just click on the links to the free products and priced products by TBOTEMC (The Best of Teacher Entrepreneurs Marketing Cooperative) members.

Completing a Glyph for Groundhog's Day


On February 2nd in 1887, Groundhog Day, featuring a rodent meteorologist, was celebrated for the first time at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. According to tradition, if a groundhog emerges from its hole on this day and sees its shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter weather! (YIKES!)  No shadow means an early spring. I'm hoping for the latter.

No matter whether he sees his shadow or not, it is always fun for students to do special activities on Groundhog's Day.  In my Teachers Pay Teachers Store, I feature a Groundhog Day Glyph. Glyphs are a really form of graphing, and students need the practice. In addition, glyphs are an excellent activity for reading and following directions, and they involve problem solving, communication, and data organization. 

Only $3.00
This glyph has the students coloring or gluing different items on a groundhog based on information about themselves. Students are to finish the groundhog glyph using the eight categories listed below.

1) Head covering
2) In the Sky
3) Eyes
4) Around the Groundhog’s Neck
5) Flowers
6) Umbrella
7) Color the Groundhog
9) Name

Examples of the first three categories can be viewed on the preview version of the resource. So that each student has the same groundhog to start with, a printable outline is provided on page 4 of this six page activity. This handout also contains a page where the students are asked to identify the characteristics of someone who did their own groundhog glyph. An answer key is included. Kindergarten teachers can easily adapt this activity since the instructions include pictures.