The History of Base-Ten-Blocks: Why and Who Made Base-Ten-Blocks?


  • Rina Kim
  • Lillie R. Albert


The purpose of this study is to present evidence of how base-ten-blocks have been developed and emphasized as a tool for learning in mathematics education. After an introduction of the theme, we discuss the theoretical and epistemological perspectives that provide the basis for our analysis of the literature. Then, we illustrate how base-ten-blocks have historically been associated with the numeral concepts from the prehistoric era to today. We also review studies about different manipulatives that focus on numerical concepts (e.g., Cuisenaire rods). This discussion will broaden our understanding regarding how perspectives toward mathematics instruction have changed with the introduction of base-ten-blocks. The intent was not to understand the process of developing base-ten-blocks but rather to suggest that teachers must consider the underlying mathematical concepts and structures of base-ten-blocks when they use them. In summary, this study revealed that base-ten-blocks as concrete materials seems to have been presented as different isomorphic numeral concepts for various educational purposes throughout its developmental process.

DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2014.v5n9p356


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How to Cite

Kim, R., & Albert, L. R. (2014). The History of Base-Ten-Blocks: Why and Who Made Base-Ten-Blocks?. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, 5(9), 356. Retrieved from