Looking for a kid-friendly way to help your fifth graders practice using exponents to represent powers of ten? When I first saw that I had to teach the use of exponents to denote powers of ten, which is part of the Grade 5 Common Core Math Standards, all of the materials that I found were aimed at middle- and high-schoolers. I needed resources that were clear, engaging, and developmentally appropriate for my elementary-age students, so I designed the materials in this set to fill that need. The board games and cards in this set will allow your students to practice exploring with varied representations of the powers of ten, offering hours of engaging mathematical practice.
Common Core State Standards for Mathematics addressed:
Numbers and Operations in Base Ten (NBT)
Understand the place value system.
• Use whole number exponents to denote powers of ten. (5.NBT.2)
• Powers of Ten Four-in-a-Row
board game, spinners, and directions
• Powers of Ten Pathway
board game, spinners, and directions
• Super Powers of Ten
cards and directions
• two reference sheets
I designed these games to help build my students’ fluency with varied representations of powers of ten: standard form, exponent form, word form and as multiplication expressions. There are two board games – Powers of Ten Four-in-a-Row
and Powers of Ten Pathway
– as well as a set of cards. There are directions for each of the games, and the directions are so simple that your students will pick up on the games in no time. The Powers of Ten Pathway
board game and the set of cards offer multiple ways to play, so the games in this pack will provide hours of engaging mathematical practice.
Powers of Ten Four-in-a-Row
This two-player game is simple – students spin one of two spinners and use a colored token to cover a space on the board. Once a given student has four of his or her colored tokens in a row, that student wins.
The board has thirty-five spaces, each with the standard form of a power of ten – from 10 through 10,000,000. The spinners have the same powers of ten, but written in word form and exponent form (e.g., ten to the fourth power and 10^4). As students spin, they need to find the number on the board that matches the phrase of base & exponent that they spun.
The game requires very few materials: colored tokens for the students to place on the board, and either a plastic, transparent spinner (available through most teacher supply companies such as EAI Education or Nasco) or just a paper clip and a pencil for students to use as a makeshift spinner.
I designed the spinners to allow for an element of strategy as your students play. Values are split among the spinners, but one spinner has more of a given value than the other. For instance, there are two 10^3s on the left spinner, but only one on the right. As students play, I hope they will realize that one spinner is better for them to spin than the other, depending on the space they want to cover.
Powers of Ten Pathway
This game can be played by more than two people and offers a couple of possibilities for gameplay.
One option is to have the students use the set of spinners included with the board. The spaces on the board each feature the exponent form of a power of ten, with the largest being 10^6. The spinners feature the same values found on the board but in standard form, word form, and written as multiplication expressions using 10 as a factor.
Provide the students with game pawns (like those found in most board games) and either a transparent spinner or a paper clip and pencil. Students begin with their pawns on start and take turns spinning any of the four spinners on the board. Each student moves his or her pawn along the path from start to finish, moving to the closest base/exponent that is equivalent to the number of phrase spun. The first player to land on the finish space wins.
Since there are only about 30 spaces from start to finish and students will skip over many spaces as they progress forward, it will not take very long for students to finish one game and start a new one. The fast pace of the game will definitely keep your students engaged!
Your students can also forego the spinners and use a die, some game pawns, and their math journal or notebook paper to play Powers of Ten Pathway
as a point-accumulating game. Students begin at start and roll the die, moving ahead the indicated number of spaces. When a student lands on a given space, he or she collects points equal to the value of the space. Landing on 10^4, for example, gives a student 10,000 points. Students add points for each space they land on, with the wining student being the person who has the most points once everyone has reached finish. Your students will love the fact that they will accumulate hundreds of thousands, or even millions of points, and keeping track of their points in their journal or on notebook paper will give them quick practice with adding large numbers.
Super Powers of Ten cards
The Super Powers of Ten
cards can be used to play a number of different games: War, Go Fish, even Memory. Each card has a number or an expression that uses the exponent form of a power of ten – such as 4,000 or 3 x 10^2. The largest number on the cards is 900,000 and the largest power of ten is 10^5, and the cards are designed so there are two different cards with equivalent values: 2,000 and 2 x 10^3, for instance. Due to the nature of the numbers and expressions on the cards, students will need to be proficient with exponent forms of powers of ten before they can be successful with these cards. These cards make an excellent follow-up to the board games; as the students develop automaticity with identifying equivalent forms of powers of ten, they can “graduate” from playing the board games to playing the card game.
There is one sheet with 9 card “fronts”, and then 9 sheets, each featuring 9 card “backs”. The graphics on the card fronts are in color, but these cards (as well as the other games) will look great printed out or copied in black & white as well. The pages with the card backs do not have any lines, but the card front sheet has lines to guide you when cutting.
You can print out the sheet with the card fronts and then photocopy it with one of the sheets of card backs. The fronts and backs will line up, and then simply cut out along the dotted lines to have the 9 cards. Copy the same sheet of card fronts repeatedly with the remaining card backs and then cut out to create the complete set of cards.
If you would like the card fronts to be in color, you can print out 9 copies of the card front page, and then put them back in your printer (your printer will likely have some sort of directions or symbol to show whether to place the pages face up or face down) and print out the 9 sheets of card backs so they end up on the reverse of the card fronts.
You might also opt to print out the card fronts and back separately and then glue then to the front and back of a piece of cardstock and tagboard, cutting out and laminating the cards so they are more durable.
For both the board games and the card game, I have included half-sheet reference sheets (two on a page) that may help some or all of your students as they play. The first sheet lists the four forms of power of ten featured on the gameboard and spinners, from 10^1 through 10^7. The second sheet lists all of the number and expressions featured on the playing cards. You might opt to give your students a copy of the reference sheets for them to look at while they play; they can also glue them in their math journals, providing a reference for other power of ten-based activities. You might also use these two reference sheets to differentiate for your students – students who are less fluent or proficient with expressions that use exponent forms of powers of ten can have the reference sheet while other students can play without the sheet.
Looking for more practice with powers of ten? Check out:
Super Powers of Ten - task cards + printables (set a)
Super Powers of Ten - task cards + printables (set b)
I hope your students enjoy these resources and are able to build their proficiency with powers of ten. – Dennis McDonald