Teaching The Place Value of a Number: 3 Helpful Tools - Elementary Education

Teaching The Place Value of a Number: 3 Helpful Tools

Do you want to help your students understand the place value of a number? If so, you’re in luck! In this blog post, we will discuss three different ways to teach this concept. The first way is with place value mats. This is a traditional approach that many teachers use. The second way is with place value games. Games are a great way to engage students and help them learn in a fun way. Finally, the third way to teach place value is with daily math prompts. These prompts can be used as bell work or in centers.

A Hands-On Tool to Visualize Place Value of a Number: Place Value Mats

Place value mats are a great way to introduce place value. They can be used whole group, in small groups, or individually. mats are also a great way to review place value. To use a place value mat, you will need a place to put it. I recommend laminating the mat so that it will last longer. You will also need some counters. I like to use base ten blocks, but you can also use place value discs, Unifix cubs, or anything else that you have on hand. Here’s a simple layout of a place value mat for teaching place value of a number:

To use the place value mat, have students put a certain number of counters on each place. For example, if you are working with the number 27, students would put two counters on the “tens” place and 7counters on the “ones” place. Once students have placed the counters on the mat, they can count them to find the total number of counters.

A Sneaky Tool to Trick Kids Into Learning Place Value of a Number: Place Value Games

There are many place value games that you can use to help students understand this concept. Two of my favorites are Knockout and Scoot.

To play Knockout, you will need a whiteboard or white surface, a Knockout game, and 2 same-sized teams.

The Knockout rules at a glance:

•Divide your class into 2 single file lines

•Display the first slide (here’s an example):

place value of a number game shown: 2 players facing off to answer first

•The player at the front of his/her line faces off against the player from the other team: the first player to answer his/her question correctly wins and returns to the end of the line.

•The player who does not win goes to sit on the team “bench” to cheer on the team!

BUT WAIT. That’s not all. If a player faces these slides, the following could happen:

•Double Free Pass: Both players automatically get to stay in the game!

•Double Knockout: Both players are automatically out!

•Pick a Pal: Choose a player from the bench to return to the game!

Knockout is a seriously fun and addicting game for any subject. You can view all of them here.

place value of a number game shown: 2 players facing off to answer first

How to Play Scoot:

Place value cards face down on desks. Students take turns flipping over their cards, solving the problem, and writing their answers on the whiteboard or white surface (some teachers have specific recording sheets for this game too). When all students have had a turn, they stand up and “scoot” to the next desk. The game continues until all desks have been visited. My friend Mary has a blog post that explains place value Scoot in more detail.

A Daily Tool for Reinforcing Place Value of a Number: Whiteboard Math Prompts

Another great way to help students understand place value is with daily math prompts. These can be used as bell work, in centers, or as a quick math warm-up!

To use them, simply write or project a place value prompt on a whiteboard. For example, you could ask, “What is the place value of the digit 3 in the number 234?” Students would then have to figure out that the place value of the digit “two” is 30. All answers go in a spiral journal, which is kept for every daily prompt. I love this because it’s so easy to see the growth students make throughout the year.

Here are 3 of my favorite place value prompts to give my students:

  1. What is the place value of the digit in the number _____?
  2. Write a number that has _____ in the place value.
  3. Expand this number: _____

I’m a huge fan of using slides for this purpose—not only because they are SO easy (literally prep with the click of a button) but then I can display the response frame to students as well. This would be a lot to write every day so it’s nice to have it all in one place and ready to go.

Exhibit A:

place value of a number knockout game slide - shows base ten blocks and asks students to write the number.

Exhibit B:

place value of a number knockout game slide - shows the number 18 and asks students to write the number of tens and ones in the number

I hope you enjoyed this blog post! If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below. Happy teaching!

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