Ten Is A Powerful Number

Scripture: Exodus 7

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will review the story of the 10 Plagues.
  • Students will learn that the people of Egypt suffered through ten plagues before Pharaoh agreed to let Moses lead the Israelites our. God showed his power over the false gods of Egypt through each plague.
  • Students will learn that our number system is based on ten. And that we use 10 digits (0-9) to write every number we can imagine, but the value of each digit is determined by its place in the number.
  • Students will participate I an activity to practice the place values of the digits in a given number.

Guiding Question: How does the location of each digit in a number show its value?

Materials: 1000 or more craft sticks (straws, toothpicks or similar items); rubber bands or string; paper and markers or whatever is available to draw with. Count 95 sets of ten sticks. Tie each set into a bundle of 10 using rubber bands or string. Then take eight sets of 10 bundles and tie them into bundles of 100. You should now have eight bundles of 100 sticks, 15 bundles of 10 sticks and 50 loose sticks.

Procedure: Review the story of Moses and Pharaoh and the 10 plagues. Explain to the students that God showed His power over the false gods of Egypt with each of the 10 plagues. Explain to the students that 10 is a quantity we base our number system on (likely because most people have 10 fingers to count with.) Ask students to read various multi-digit numbers.

If students are new to numbers, write the digits 1, 10, 100; 2, 20, 200, etc., then use the sticks to show what these numbers mean: 1 stick, 1 bundle of 10 sticks, 1 bundle of 100 sticks; 2 sticks; 2 bundles of 10 sticks, 2 bundles of 100 sticks.

On the paper, draw 3 columns and label them hundreds, tens, ones (left to right). Introduce 124, 354, and so on by writing the number and placing the appropriate number of bundles\sticks in each column. Have the students read the numbers and place the appropriate number of bundles/sticks in each column. Then give the students various combinations of bundles + sticks and have them 1) place the sticks in the appropriate column, and 2) write the number represented.

Have the students practice on their own by folding a paper in thirds, labeling the columns, and using cut-out drawings of the bundles and sticks to model various numbers.

Additional Questions:

  • Why do we use the zero as a place holder for 10’s and 100’s? Why do we call our number system a “place value” system? How could we use stick bundles to represent larger numbers, such as 1,987 or 43,876? Draw what the bundles would look like.
  • Use stick bundles in columns to model addition and subtraction of multi-digit numbers. Why is it important to keep numbers lined up by place value when adding and subtracting?

Supplemental Activity: Research Egyptian and/or Roman number systems that had completely different symbols for 1, 10, 100, etc. How would you write 587, 372, 198, etc. in these number systems?