Are you searching for effective ways to help your students develop a deep understanding of place value? In this blog post, we will explore four effective approaches that can transform the way you teach this fundamental mathematical concept. From the power of place value charts to the fun and excitement of place value games, let’s explore innovative strategies designed to enhance your students’ conceptual grasp of numbers!
No matter what grade I was teaching, we always started with place value in math. It’s the natural place to start, and every year we moaned at how our kiddos just didn’t have a conceptual understanding of it.
We knew that it was vitally important that we help our students understand number values and placement because it lays the groundwork for so many other math concepts that they would be learning later in the school year.
Table of Contents
Grab This Helpful Guide for Setting Up Math Centers!
Place Value Blocks
One thing I have learned is that manipulatives are the best place to start almost any new math learning. Kids need to develop concrete understanding first. They need to put their hands on objects that represent numbers in order to develop conceptual understanding and move to more abstract ways of representing these numbers. Plus, they really LOVE manipulatives!
I like to give students time to play before we start a lesson. Tell them they can have 5 minutes to play, and then it’s your turn, and you can begin a lesson.
Have your students construct different 2, 3, and 4-digit numbers you write on the board. Walk around and assess their understanding of what each base ten block represents. This should give you immediate feedback that you can use to plan whole-group lessons as well as small-group remediation.
Place Value Charts
Place value charts are a great visual for students to refer to during practice. For the most impact – make the chart WITH them.
Going forward – you can give students a place value chart they can access anytime. You can also put copies in your math centers so that students can be more independent as they move through this math unit.
This helpful chart is included in a year-long set of math anchor charts that cover all major math concepts taught in 3rd grade.
Place Value Games
A really smart 2nd-grade teacher modeled this game for me, which was an AMAZING way for kids to practice with base ten blocks. She called it The Bank. It can be played at any grade level – just use numbers that correspond with the standards.
How to Play “The Bank”
- Place students in pairs and give each pair the exact same amount of base ten blocks. Use some combination of hundreds, tens, and ones.
- Write a number on the board.
- Students must build the number using the base ten blocks.
- If they don’t have the correct combination, they must go to the bank. Only one student can go to the banker (teacher) to trade in hundreds for tens or tens for ones in order to create the number you have given them.
- This is where the magic happens! Students have first to decide how to create the numbers if and what they need to change in order to make it happen. Next, they have to verbalize this to the teacher.
- Student teams create the number using the base ten blocks, and you can check them for accuracy. If they have not created the correct number, they go back and figure out their next step.
The more they play this game, the better they get! This post goes into more detail, so check it out!
Another fun game to play is Place Value Jeopardy! Your kids will be SO engaged, and you don’t have to prep anything!
Place Value Math Centers
Math centers offer a multitude of benefits when it comes to providing students with place-value math practice. Any of these activities will help your kiddos get to a conceptual understanding with hands-on problem-solving opportunities!
The set of math task cards above is perfect for the beginning stages of place value practice. It includes practice matching base ten block representations to word problems, 3 & 4-digit numbers, expanded form, missing digits, and more!
Some of your students have a good understanding of place value but need practice with problem-solving. This Place Value Error Analysis Task Cards resource includes valuable practice with error analysis that will keep them engaged and progressing! You will love the element of writing in math that takes this practice to a much higher level!
By implementing the four engaging strategies of introducing place value with manipulatives, utilizing math anchor charts, incorporating games, and exploring dynamic math centers, we can foster a deep conceptual understanding of place value in our elementary students. I hope you will try these strategies in your classroom!
The most valuable resource that all teachers have is each other. Without collaboration our growth is limited to our own perspectives.Robert John Meehan
Interested in signing up for my email?
• Get valuable resources and teaching tips delivered straight to your inbox
• Exclusive deals and discounts only available to email list subscribers
• Be the first to know about new products and launches
• Share your ideas and feedback with me directly, I love hearing from my readers!