General Questions About Digi-Block

What is Digi-Block?

The Digi-Block Program is a research-based mathematics program for the elementary grades that provides children with an understanding of the base ten number system. The Digi-Block system models the composition of numbers in a conceptually pure manner. By working with the blocks, children develop an intuitive understanding of place value and arithmetic operations.

Where can I buy Digi-Block materials?

Digi-Block materials are sold through the online store or by phone at (888) 834-4466.

We also have sales representatives throughout the country. Call our Sales Department at (888) 834-4466 or e-mail for more information.

Does Digi-Block align with the Common Core standards?

The Digi-Block method uses the same approach to mathematical pedagogy as the Common Core. Digi-Block covers the the standards that are in the following Common Core domains: “Counting & Cardinality,” “Operations & Algebraic Thinking,” “Number & Operations in Base Ten,” and much of what is in “The Number System.” Although we have not published a correlated list yet of each Digi-Block lesson matched with the corresponding Common Core Standard, Digi-Block lessons are fully aligned.

Digi-Block is not a comprehensive curriculum. To fully cover all grade-level standards, one needs to supplement the other standards, most notably geometry and measurements and data, with other lessons. If you look at the graph below for common core standards, you will see that the far majority of standards/skills for k-5 is algebra and numbers and operations. To teach number sense, operations, place value and decimals, etc., there’s nothing better than Digi-block.

Why are the Blocks all one color?

The blocks are all one color so that children focus solely on the change in size from one block to another (Block-of-10 to Block-of-100, for example). The block-of-100 is the same shape and color as the block-of-10, only larger.

Why are the Blocks green?

The color of the green blocks was chosen because research studies show this color to have a soothing effect. In addition, the color is gender neutral, attracting girls and boys equally. The choice also involved a purposeful decision to move away from primary colors so that the Blocks are not viewed as just for “little kids.”

For which grade levels is the Digi-Block Program appropriate?

The program is appropriate for any age student who is developing a sense of numbers. The Digi-Block Program is currently being used in classes from Pre-Kindergarten through middle school. Teachers have found the program effective with a wide range of student abilities.

Has Digi-Block been field-tested?

Yes! The Program was thoroughly field-tested in over 70 classrooms for over two years in the Greater Boston area. Feedback from educators has been incorporated into the materials and the Comprehensive Teacher Guides.

How is Digi-Block different from Unifix Cubes, Base-Ten Blocks and Cuisenaire Rods?

First, the Digi-Block System is the only mathematics manipulative that is conceptually pure – it is a truly representative model of our base ten number system. Ten single blocks back into holders creating a larger block-of-ten. Ten blocks-of-ten pack to make a block-of-100. And again, ten blocks-of-100 build the block-of-1000. Because of the packing system there is no trading involved. Students naturally pack and unpack boxes, seamlessly performing all operations.

For example, when students are subtracting 17 from 32, students unpack a block -of-10 thereby creating 12 single blocks. Students can then remove one block-of-10 and 7 single blocks. Student do not need to trade or exchange materials.

Second, the size of the Blocks show a precise relationship between the powers of ten; that is the block of ten is exactly ten times the size of the single block; the block of one hundred is exactly 100 times the size of the single block and ten times the size of the block- of- 10.

Is there an assessment component?

Yes. As children work with the blocks, their thinking is visible through their actions with the Blocks. By observing the steps a specific child uses, the teacher gains valuable insights into the child’s conceptual development. The program also stresses the importance of self-assessment and self-correction. Children are encouraged to make predictions before performing an operation with the blocks. Children also reflect back on the prediction after arriving at the solution to help clarify their thinking. The Digi-Block Program includes Activity and Assessment sheets to assess a child’s understanding at the end of a lesson. The Comprehensive Teacher Guide enables teachers to provide rich learning experiences, to plan activities, and to document their students’ progress.

How do children gain mastery of the traditional algorithms?

The Digi-Block Program promotes conceptual understanding rather than a dependence on rote memorization. By developing a true number sense, children grasp the meaning of the arithmetic operations and recognize situations in which the operations can be used to solve problems. Children find their own ways to record their work with the Blocks. They have opportunities to explain their procedures, verify that the method is successful in a variety of circumstances and extend their work to larger and larger quantities. With this demonstrated mastery, the connection to the traditional algorithm becomes a natural extension. Children readily see and understand the steps in the process as well as the traditional recording practices.

Who is the inventor of the Digi-Block Program?

A mathematician, Dr. Elon Kohlberg, invented the Digi-Block Program. He developed the concept originally to teach his nephew who was struggling with basic number sense.

Can I get a sample?

Yes, you can! Simply fill out a quick form here and one of our representatives will be happy to ship you a sample.

Classroom management

What’s the best way to store Digi-Block materials?

Bins and baskets work well for storing blocks. A rolling cart for the blocks can also be helpful. If storage is a problem, store the blocks packed into the block-of-1000. Teachers make some blocks available for free exploration while keeping other blocks separate to be used in a lesson. If the students are working in collaborative groups, providing one container per group helps in the distribution of the materials. When working with older children, it is important to remind them to use only those blocks necessary for the problem. Remind them to clear their work area of any additional materials before beginning to solve the problem.

Is there an increased level of noise when using the blocks?

Collaborative work, packing and unpacking blocks, students excitedly talking about what they discover can add to the noise level in the classroom. We suggest having students work with the blocks on a carpeted floor or other noise dampening workspace.

How can the blocks be cleaned?

Blocks and holders can be cleaned with mild soap and water. They can also be washed in the top rack of a dishwasher. The ones and tens must be placed in a closed basket or mesh bag so they don’t fall through the rack. (This was tested using a Kitchen-Aid dishwasher on normal cycle. Do not use heavy-duty or ‘sani-‘ cycles, as these reach higher temperatures.) The whiteboard on the counter can be cleaned with Expo-brand whiteboard cleaner. Normal cleaners can also be used, but they are not as effective. The rest of the counter surfaces can be cleaned with mild soap and water.

Can I use Digi-Block with an entire classroom?

Yes. Our kits are designed to provide for a class of up to 24 students. Whole group and small group activities are detailed in the Comprehensive Teacher Guide for each kit.

Can I use Digi-Block with my current mathematics series?

Yes. The Digi-Block Program has been designed as a supplemental program. It provides an effective approach for teaching number sense and basic operations. It does not require “additional time” but rather “alternative time.” Teaching with the blocks replaces how you would approach teaching the same concepts as suggested within the regular curriculum.

Training / Awareness workshops

What kinds of Digi-Block professional development programs are recommended to ensure smooth implementation in our schools?

We are interested in demonstrating the power of Digi-Block to as many educators as are interested! We like to provide one consultant for 20 participants. The workshops are interactive and provide time for teachers to discover the benefits of the program. Prices vary according to length of workshop.

Is follow-up or “booster” development available?

Yes. We believe that we all benefit from follow-up professional development. We learn how you are using the program in the classrooms and this provides an opportunity for you to share your successes. We can address questions that you have after you have been using the program. We are committed to supporting the professional development needs that will ensure successful implementation in all Digi-Block classrooms.

How can I get Digi-Block on my list of sole source providers?

Just send us or fax us all the documents or e-mail us the name of the contact person and best way to reach them. We will fill out the paperwork and submit to the office listed on the application. You can also call our Sales Department at (888) 834-4466 or e-mail us at