Students always want to build creatively with base-ten blocks. This activity gives them the chance to finally do so in an educational manner.
Students are asked to select up to 9 flats, rods, and units. They are allowed to build what they would like using the blocks (a house, for example). Students illustrate a picture of their structure and count how many flats, rods, and units were included. They then write the total number of blocks that they used.
Differentiation: Advanced (or older) students may use more than 9 flats, rods, and units. They will then need to calculate the total number of blocks used. For example: 2 hundreds, 12 tens, and 3 ones equals 323 total blocks.
Group Work: I had my second-graders work in groups of 4 to create a structure together. They then each had to complete their own worksheet using the structure that they had created together.