Saturday, 25 October 2014

Fly on the Math Teacher's Wall - Place Value

Join me and my fellow math bloggers as we squash mathematical misconceptions, while offering you some insightful tips and tricks!

I teach 8th grade and the first thing I emphasize every year is place value. I think a lot of teachers are under the misconception that place value is a concept taught in the early years and does not need to be focused on in the higher grades.

Is place value a part of my math program? YES!
Is it technically part of my curriculum? NO.
Is it important to my students' understanding? YES!

Place value is so very important, and should be addressed every year, even into middle school and beyond. One of the first activities I do every year is a review of place value. You can grab a copy of my review here.

Without a firm comprehension of place value, students will never truly develop a strong understanding of numbers.

Why is place value important?

As I was trying to write an answer to this question, I decided to take a look around and see what other educators had to say. I love this explanation from Ruth Rumack.

"The concept that numbers can be broken apart and put back together gives the student a more solid understanding of how different operations work. Not only that, but the student can also figure out how to solve problems independently by playing with the numbers. Once a child has a good understanding of place value, he or she will have an easier time with addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, expanded notation, etc. Place value is the "why" behind the basics of mathematics; it teaches beyond memorization and repetition."

I love the wording she uses - "playing with the numbers".

I am all about making math FUN, so I thought I would use this post to share some fun place value activities, that allow my students to "play with the numbers".

Place Value Tents make a great visual and really show students what a number is "worth". The best part is the fact that they get to "play" with the tents and move the numbers around...all while strengthening their number sense!

 I've seen a few similar ideas like this one on Pinterest using cups.

Games will always win over your students. Here are two that I use when teaching place value.

This game can easily be played with a few students or as a whole class.

If you have a 10 sided die, that works best, as there is the possibility to roll any digit from 0 - 9.

It is a game of chance and I always love seeing those risk takers waiting desperately until the last roll for me to call a 9 to put in the highest place!

This game is easily played with 3-5 players and makes a great activity for those early finishers. All you need is a deck of cards and you are ready to play.

Both of these games, and many more, are found in my Number Centers - Set #1.

I hope I have convinced you that place value is an important concept to emphasize, no matter what grade you teach. I also hope I provided you with a few ideas that you will want to try in your own classroom.

I could go on and on about place value, but I think I've said enough for today. I do plan to expand on this post and share some more ideas about place value in the days to come. I hope you come back to check them out!

For now, head on over to see what Meg has to say about place value misconceptions over at The Teacher Studio.


  1. I love the "Risky Place Value" game! Such a simple set up and concept that could promote such high level conversations about the difference between "digit" and "value". I will definitely be playing this game with some of my 5th graders who are struggling with value in the decimal places! The Math Spot

  2. I love the place value tents. Your point that playing with numbers only helps a student in all other areas of math is so important. It's also great to see that elementary teachers can help students build a foundation that is so important in the upper grades. Great post.

  3. I love the place value tents. I do something similar with arrow cards but I like how the tents make it more interactive and I think better for a small group or a pair working together.

    The Math Maniac

  4. Great post! So many goodies! I started using place value arrows, similar to your tents, many moons ago when I taught fifth grade. They are great to use at various levels. Thanks for sharing!


  5. Just wondering do you include any concrete models when covering place value with your older students?