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Place Value

Compiled By: Mrs. G

Place value lessons can be boring, but here are some engaging activities your students will enjoy.

place value game
Posted by: Tonda

Not only do my third graders know place value, they beg to play this game. On long strips of paper I made place value charts, making sure the commas were in place and writing the words (ones, tens, hundreds, etc.) under the blank line where a number will be placed. Laminate. With a partner and a deck of cards the children shuffle the deck and then pass out the predetermined number of cards according to how far you want them to learn place value. Hundred thousands would be 6 cards, millions 7 cards, 10 millions 8 cards, etc. Cards are face down in a pile. Face cards equal 1, aces are 0, and everything else what they say. They are trying to make the largest number possible to win (or smallest). Both players turn over a card at the same time and decide where to place it. Once placed it must stay there. You must be able to say the number you made to win the pile of cards. They eagerly learn place value and soon move on to the stategy of where to place the cards to their best advantage. This 6 is pretty good, but I have two more chances to turn over something higher...hmmm. It's fun to watch them eagerly embrace this concept.

Place Value Man
Posted by: luvnjesus

When I taught 3rd and 4th grade and had students still struggling with the concept of Place Value, we found that it was a language problem...they didn't understand the "term", we made "Place Value Man" (I know sounds funny). We cut a "man" out of construction paper and put magnetic tape on the back. We would initially ask, "What is this?" They answer, "A man" We say "What is his value?" They say "?"... Then draw a simple scene on the board, maybe a dinner table and chairs with a wife and child (stick figures). Put place value man at the table. Again ask, "What is his 'value'?"...They say, "He is a dad, husband, etc." Continue this with other scenes (a work scene, draw a parachute coming up from his back, anything you can think of).
Now they can make the connection that "Place" gives "Value". Then transfer to the number, place value chart, etc. and it seems to just "click". I started this when teaching struggling 4th graders. Suddenly it just made sense to them. I shared it with a 3rd grade teacher at another school, she used it and had the same result.
Just an idea. :)

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place value
Posted by: Jessica

I just taught place value to 5th graders of all abilities last week. I drew a chart on the board. We talked about place value for a while and then filled the chart in together, from ones to hundred millions. The kids noticed that the "ones,tens,and hundreds" place always repeated. We began chanting "ones,tens,hundreds,ones,tens,hundreds...." over and over again. I got so tickled because some of the students were moving their bodies in their seat as if it were their favorite song.
After it was APPARENT that they had "accidentally" memorized those places, I told them that they were 1/2 way there. The only thing left to do was decide what "section" the ones,tens,hundreds were in (either thousands or millions). Through investigation and silly ways we created a very simple way of remembering each place. It was evident that they were enjoying themselves as well as proud of themselves. In a journal, I had each child reflect on the lesson...most of them said that they never understood place value or didn't "get it" the year before. It was great. Silly idea, but it actually worked!!

fun game for place value
Posted by: stacey

This week I have been teaching place value to my third grade students. They played a game called Race to a Thousand and had a blast. It goes something like this.... I divided them up in groups of six, but you can do 2 to however many you are comfortable with. They each need a place value mat (which my students made themselves) up to the thousands place. Each group needs 2 dice and ones, tens, and hundred blocks. Each student takes turns rolling the dice and choosing the number they wish to create from the 2 dice. For example, if they roll a 4 and a 2, they would want to make it 24 or 42, but since the object is to get to a 1000 first, they choose the larger #, then display that # on their mat, record the answer on the back of the mat and continue with the next person. When it is the same student's turn again, they add the next # they roll to the previous one and keep building from there until someone reaches 1000. This also helped them with addition and lining up the #s in the correct position. You could use 3 dice if you wanted the game to go really quick. Hope this helps.

Place Value
Posted by: Sue

When I teach place value, I use index cards. Each child gets a set of index cards with numbers 0 - 9 on them. (Only use a number once) Then I have them put the numbers in order as I say it. (example: one thousand, four hundred twenty - They place the numbers: 1 420 Note: space for comma.) Also, you can have them point to the number in the thousands place. Or what number is in the tens place? Or you can also use these index cards to compare numbers. The kids liked it!

Another fun thing . . . have students work in pairs or small groups. They need to roll a die. Each student can choose on their paper wherever they would like to place the number on the die. Then they continue rolling for a set amount of times, and then they compare numbers. Whoever has the greatest # (or smallest) earns a point. The key is once a number is written , it cannot be changed. Any questions, just ask.

Place value activity
Posted by: Barb


I am teaching a summer school right now and another teacher shared an idea with me for working with place value. Its done as a group activity, on the board or an overhead. You draw spaces for a number (kind of like for hangman...i.e. _ _ _, _ _ _ for 100 thousand) Then have them identify what the place values are (ones, tens, hundreds, etc...) up to a million or more depending on what you want them to work on. Then, have cards with the numbers 0-9 on them and students can take turns choosing a card from the "deck" and deciding where to put it to try to get the largest number possible (or the smallest #) As the student decides, either the class or that student has to say what place value they are putting their number in. When they get the final number, they read it off correctly and then determine if it was the largest one or not and other possible numbers they could have had with those digits.

My students really got excited about it and had fun with the challenge to make the biggest number.

Hope this idea is one you can use

Place value cards
Posted by: JKB

I took card stock and made a set individual cards for the digits 0-9. I laminated them, so they would last longer. Then, when I am teaching place value, I give each child a set of the cards, along with some elbow macaroni.

I used these in several ways. First of all, I would call out a number such as 1,943 and the children had to lay that number out on their desk. (They used an elbow macaroni noodle for the comma.)

Another activity I did with these.....I wrote a number in expanded form on my overhead and they had to form the standard form with their cards. (I would write something like 20,000 + 1,000 + 700 + 40 + 6 and they would take their cards and place them as 21,746.)

Later, I would write numbers in words on my overhead and the children would lay them out.

The cards were also great for playing the Mystery Number game. I would give clues such as:

I am thinking of a three digit number:

The digit in the tens column is a 3.
The number in the ones column is 2 less than the digit in the tens column.
The number in the hundreds column is 6 more than the digit in the tens column.
What is my number? (931)

Now, we use them for multiplication practice. I will say something like show me the product for 6 x 7. It's just another way to practice without pencil and paper.

Hope these ideas are helpful.


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Place Value Story
Posted by: Suzanne Buza-Snead

What I tell my students is that we are going to war, the knights against the gladiators. The knights are the top row of numbers and the gladiators are the bottom row of numbers. They are battling over the right to the castle.

_____ (You can use smaller numbers, but for the sake of making the story more interesting, I am using larger numbers.)

The stuudents look at the problem as I model the story. I say," The war begins with the eighth knight and the ninth gladiator (the top and bottom numbers in the ones place) they begin fighting and the knight realizes that the gladiator is too powerful so I jumps on his white stallion and gallops over to the tens castle (actually gallop and make the's more entertaining) He arrives at the tens castle and knocks on the door (actually do this, too) The door opens and you ask, I need to borrow ten of your knights in order to defeat the gladiator, may I borrow them? A voice replies (change your voice) "I am very sorry, but I have no knights to give, try the hundreds castle." I reply, " Thanks for the advice and if I can borrow some knights from the next castle, I will drop some off with you on my way back because you have been so kind." Get back on your stallion and gallop to the hundreds castle. Approach and proceed with the same end up with 100 gallop back to the tens castle and drop off 90 and return to your castle (act all of this out on the way back, too) Finally, you reach your castle and are able to defeat the gladiator with no problem...the story continues until the problem is solved.
You won't have to do this all the time. What I found was that my students enjoyed hearing the story and later would re-enact the story themselves while they were should have seen some of them galloping in their seat silently during our state achievement tests

Good luck!

Place Value
Posted by: Debby

Many of my students don't seem familiar with place value either at the start of Grade 3. I use a deck of cards for a simple 5 minute game. Each group gets a deck of cards and I have a deck. Each person in the group takes turns of course. I ask them to pick 2 cards ( face cards and tens don't count ) while I pick 2 from my deck. I ask for a number that is - the highest, the lowest, closest to 100 or smaller than 40 etc.; you can ask all kinds of questions. The object is to beat my cards. The group with the winning answer gets all the cards. You can also get each group to add up the points they got for the game. Then record and see the winning team at the end of the week. Once they are comfortable with 2 digit numbers, the term I use, I show them how it would look on a place value mat. Then we advance to hundreds and thousands.
Also the game Race to 1000 can be downsized to Race to 100 or you can play "Clear the Mat" which is where you start at 100 and go down to 0. These are great for adding and subtracting skills. Have fun!

Place Value
Posted by: Kay Lynn

I play a game like the one described above but
with a die. If we are making a four digit number,
the students draw four lines on their
dry eraser marker boards. I will roll the die, five times. The students are allowed one pass. They must place each of four rolls in a place on their boards. The student(s) with the greatest number wins a small prize (like a Tootsie Roll) and becomes the "die tosser" for the next round. The students not only learn place value, but probability; (How many numbers on a die are greater than 5..should I take it as a thousand or take a chance that a 6 will be rolled?)
For variation, we play for the "smallest" number and/or add place value digits to keep us on our toes! It's noisey, but fun!! Remember always, allow one pass; (making a 6-digit number..then roll 7 times).

place value
Posted by: LLK

Hi Tanya,
I have taught both grades 5 and 6 and now I am in Grade 4. Here are somethings I have done that have helped my students.
1. Make a large place value chart for the board and keep it up. You can buy them, but I made one using Print Shop 15. I just typed in the names of the columns and the program allowed me to turn them sideways...vertical I guess is the right word.. I printed them out on bright colored card stock. It will go through your printer one page at a time. I used it to write numbers underneath throughout the unit.
2. I made smaller versions that fit on to a 8x11 piece of tagboard. My math book had a sheet to use and I just copied it off in a color and laminated onto tagboard. This allowed me to read numbers to the kids and they wrote them on the laminated sheet with transparency pens. We used paper towels and a few squirt bottles of water to clean them. These were big helps in reviewing daily.
3. a lot of games. A good one is to make a number. You can either use dice or playing cards. The students turn over 4 cards ( or whatever you want) and they make the largest number they can...or smallest...then write it onto the wipe off board. In pairs, they can do the same thing and compete, keep points,etc.

I hope this helps. I am not sure I have a solution for the renaming of 1500 to 15 tens, etc.
That is very hard and repetion often doesn't help. All I know for sure is that they forget from year to year and they will get it presented to them again next year, so maybe THEN they will understand it.

place value
Posted by: Monica

I actually came by this sight looking for place value ideas also, however here are my humble ideas:

One that I do currently is using the 100 chart...telling them to mark numbers according to clues I give them. The numbers that they mark end up making a design on the 100 chart. Examples of clues/directions would be: mark the number with 2 in the ones place, mark the numbers with 5 in the tens, and mark the number with 3 in both places.

I'm thinking of creating a concentration game. The children would match up illustrations of tens and ones to the written form. I'm playing around with the ideas of place value bingo also.

Anyway, good luck to all of us dealing with the challenge of teaching place value.

place value
Posted by: Kathy

I have used many of the ideas from, Math Their Way. The techniques used in this type of math is all hands on. I use the place value mats. All it is a piece of card stock divided into half. The right side is white (ones) and the left side is blue(tens). We then practice with stacking cubes or base ten blocks. You can roll a dice and show how to add the cubes in the ones until you create a ten. Then show how you need to snap together the ten ones and make a stack of ten. Help them to understand the number by saying, "Now I have 1 ten and 0 ones. We have 10 cubes on our place value mat." If you can locate a copy of the book, Math Their Way, this could help you. However, I have noticed that many of the math text books do a nice job of giving you ideas, too.

place value
Posted by: Gina

Every year I do something called a place value project. I made up a rubric and basically the project is up to the child. I assign this project after introducing Place Value. It is based on 100 points. I made each unit on paper and I photo copy the packet. I instruct my students to use at least five of each value. They then are instructed to add up the value and write a column adddition problem on the back. The creativity comes from the title. The direction is to give it a title based on the correct calculation of the units used. For example one made a park and wrote 5,5l6 inches of grass. I can't remember some of the cuter ones. The students really surprise you. I usually give them about 3 weeks to complete the project.

Hope this helps.


place value
Posted by: Mary

I had several students this past year who just couldn't get place value. I tried EVERYTHING that I could think of and was at my witts end! I was getting ready to do my grocery shopping one night and my husband ask me to pick up some cheetos(sp) and suddenly it clicked--I could use food!!

I started by using the cheetos(I'm pretty sure that isn't spelled correctly, sorry) for the tens and soup crackers for the ones. Day one we simply would trade the tens for ones. I gave each student the value of 100 and we began by showing thirty three--three cheetos and three crackers. We did this for a while then we traded one ten for ten ones. We did that until they "got it". We then moved into showing two numbers at the same time(twenty five and sixteen underneath) and traded in the tens for the ones. Once they were comfortable with this we began to add and subtract. It sounds pretty complicated but really it isn't and the kids love it!!

A word of advice--if you do this, ask parents to send in the snack to use as it can run into some money.

place value scavenger hunt
Posted by: Angie

I just did a Place Value Scavenger Hunt with my 6th graders to practice/review place value, and they really enjoyed it! I checked out several Guinness Books of World Records from the public and school library. Then, I made up clues like: Find a number that has a 7 in the millions place, Find a record that is between 500,000 and 1,000,000, Find a record that is greater than 1 million, etc. The kids worked in pairs to complete their Scavenger Hunt papers using numbers that were in the Guinness Books. This really helped my students relate place value to numbers in the 'real world.' Hope this helps you out!

place value game
Posted by: love5th

I play this game with my 5th graders (The goal of the game is to get the highest number possible)
1. Number index cards 0-9 twice each (for a total of 20 cards)
2. Put students in groups of 2
3. Give each student a sheet that has the number of place values you want them to learn (ex. _ _ _, _ _ _, _ _ _ if you want them to know through the millions period)
4. Make sure they can't see each other's paper
5. Partner 1 draws a card and decides which position to put the digit in
6. Partner 2 does the same
7. Play continues until all positions have been filled
8. Partners compare numbers to see whose is greater
* This game helps students become familiar with positions, value of numbers in those positions, and comparing numbers
*Students have to be able to reason that if they draw a high number (ex. 9) they should put it in the position with the greatest value and if they draw a low number (ex. 0) then it should go in the position with the lowest value.

That was a quick run down...if you have any more questions let me know :)

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"Pumpkin Seeds" and Place Value
Posted by: Debra

On Halloween Day, my class had a pumpkin day. We spent the whole day with our pumpkins brought in the day (week) before. We measured (height, weight, circumference), graphed results, wrote descriptive paragraphs about our pumpkins, etc. PLACE VALUE part: I cut open three pumpkins the night before and cleaned the seeds allowing them to dry overnight. For this activity, I partnered with a 1st grade teacher who did the same thing, we grouped our students in twos (1 secondg grader, 1 first grader). Each group received a handful of seeds until all the seeds were handed out. The groups counted out seeds, seperated them in groups of ten. First, students were handed styrofoam cups to hold groups of ten, once they had filled 10 cups they transferred the tens to one (styrof.) bowl for 100's, students had to work together as a class to find enough 100's bowls to combine to fill a ziploc bag with 10 groups of 100's for the 1000's. Teachers carried the bags to make sure that students were counting by 100's as they filled the bags. Students would call out, "I have 3 hundreds. I need 7 more." and they would combine several group's seeds as they made the 1000's. It was a very busy, loud, exciting adventure in the world of counting!
NOTE: We estimated the number of seeds in various size pumpkins before cutting them open to open. Students always pick the larger pumpkin to have the most seeds. BUT, the smaller pumpkins usually do because as the pumpkins grow they absorb the seeds. Its interesting.... DEBRA

place value--boxtops
Posted by: Faith

A really neat way my students have learned place value is with the collection of Big G boxtops. Students bring in boxtops, and when there are 10, we put in a snack-size baggie (labelled "10.) When we've gotten 100, we put them in sandwich-sized baggies labelled "100". We frequently go over these, and ask questions such as, "If we had 10 more, how many would we have?" "We have 9 ones, and now we have 3 more. What do we do?" This is very versatile, and our staff collector has been very kind about us accumulating these until we have enough to make it a learning experience for us.
For larger numbers, once we collected tabs for McDonald house. Use pins for ones, twist ties for 10, sandwich bags for 100, etc. Students got so many that we had 10,000, which we put on a desk below the bulletin board in a clear storage box. It got a little much with counting, but we had a cause. Faith

Place Value
Posted by: Mrs. Wiles

Place value is a hard subject to teach. I put my students in groups of two or three and give them a spinner with numbers on it (doesn't matter which numbers as long as they're single digits). The students spin the spinner for the tens place, then the ones place, they place the correct blocks on the tens/ones mat and have to tell their partner the number they made. They love to use the spinners! (You can use dice too).

place value
Posted by: Tracy

I use the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. I told my kids that in every house there is a baby bear and he is one years old, a mama bear who is perfect size 10 and a daddy bear who pays for everything using 100 dollar bills. I tell them that all bears have the same first name.
one bear, ten bear, and 100 bear. So to tell them apart they need last names. So, there is the ones family, thousands, and millions. My kids actually can remember this story. I also color code the families for my dyslexia students. Ones are orange, thousand tan/brown, millions maroon/purple. They kids color the house on the numbers before they work.

Secret Number Game
Posted by: Mrs. G

This idea was originally posted by ConnieWI

My students also love "The Secret Number Game." It is played like this:
--Place lines on the board or have your students put them on their whiteboards. Then give the clues. (You can also make these on paper. Kids even love to write them, teacher can type them, and they can be given to the whole class.)

____ ____ , ____ ____ ____
The digit in the thousands place is the number of tentacles on an octopus.
The digit in the ones place is the number of legs on a dog.
The digit in the hundreds place is the number of arms on a starfish.
The digit in the thousands place is the sum of 6 + 2.
The digit in the tens place is the difference of 18-9.
What is my secret number?
Say it!!

No title
Posted by: iPeach

Thanks for the ideas. Connie, I copied your idea of, "The Secret Number Game" and made some more of the same, if anyone is interested. :p

The digit in the ones place is the number of sides a quadrilateral has.
The digit in the hundred thousands place is the product of 2 and 3.
The number in the thousands place is the difference of 10-5.
The number in the tens place is the number of the continents on Earth.
The digit in the hundreds place is 6x8x0.
The digit in the ten thousands place is the sum of 5 + 2.
What is my secret number?
Say it!!

The digit in the ones place is the number of planets in the Solar System (be careful!)
The digit in the hundreds place is the number of oceans on Earth.
The digit in the tens place in the product of 9 x 1.
The digit in the thousands place is the number of angles in a triangle.
The digit in the ten thousands place is the number of shoes on your feet!
The digit in the hundred thousands place is the number of cardinal directions on a Compass Rose.

The digit in the ten thousands place is the number of weekly spelling words you get divided by 5.
The digit in the ones place is the difference of 100 – 95.
The digit in the hundreds place is the number of months in the year divided by 2.
The digit in the tens place is the number of tires on a unicycle.
The digit in the thousands place is the number of times we go to PE in a week.

The digit in the hundreds place is the number of days in a weekend.
The digit in the ones place is the number of hamburger buns in a package. (8 usually)
The digit in the tens place is the number of sides a pentagon has.
The digit in the thousands place is the number of faces a cube has.
The digit in the ten thousands place is the number of faces a sphere has. (Be careful!)
The digit in the hundred thousands place is the number which means, “duo.”

The number in the hundreds place is the number of players on a basketball court in regular play. (5 players)
The number in the ten thousands place is the number of vowels in the alphabet (not including ‘y’.)
The number in the ones place is the number of moons Earth has.
The number in the thousands place is the number of legs on an arachnid.
The number in the tens place is the smallest number of minerals a rock can have.
The number in the hundred thousands place is the difference of 16 – 7.

The number in the thousands place is the sum of 3 + 3.
The number in the ten thousands place is the quotient of 14 divided by 7.
The number in the ones place is the number of strikes a baseball player can get before he/she is out.
The number in the hundreds place is the difference of 13 – 8.
The number in the tens place is the number of corners on a rectangle.

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Posted by: AussieBird

One idea: hand out a set of number strips where the HTO pieces overlap and ask children to quickly cut them out (or do this yourself as time is so short).

Then you first of all, and chosen children after you, read a card ( attached) eg what number has 4 in the hundreds, 3 in the tens and 2 in the ones . The class finds these from the strips they've cut out( 400 30 2). Ask them next to overlap the pieces so they see just one number (432). Reinforce that 432 is 400+30+2 and vice versa.
Do more hands-on examples like this.

Finally ,children could show their understanding of the concept by doing a worksheet, using the same overlapping number strips ( attached) or play a game ( attached)- you'd be best to laminate a copy of the gameboards for pairs ( I've attached 2 smaller versions per sheet).

20 minutes is not long enough! Good luck!

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100's place value straws.
Posted by: Mrs. T.

I begin place value first day of school. I have a place value pocket chart. The students add one straw per day. After 10 days, we bundle the straws and move them to the tens pocket. We count by 10's and then 1's. The chart has a place for the number above the we count how many 1's and place the number above, and then count how many 10's and put that number on top...this shows the place value relationship.
I also add a penny a day...and the students learn to recognize pennies and dimes right away...we trade in 10 pennies for a dime, and count the $.
I also use 10-frames...# of 10-frames filled = 10's place...extras = 1's place.

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place value
Posted by: MommyTN

I do a short game called "Snap it, clap it, stomp it". It's just a quick little game I can do when there's not much time. Sometimes we do this with page numbers as I call them out during the day or with the calendar. I assign each group of kids a job (snapping, clapping, or stomping) and a title (ones, tens, or hundreds). They stand in order by group. If the number was 125, for example, the hundreds groups would snap 1 time, the tens group would clap 2 times, and the ones group would stomp 5 times. At first they just look at me like I'm crazy but after a while it clicks. Like a previous poster said, it's going to take a while, but they'll get there. :)

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