Friday, July 25, 2014

5 Fun Ways to Teach Place Value

I know we have all been there.  Our first two-ish (three for me) years of teaching were a bust, and we were lucky if our kids learned something during their time with us!  Place value was always the first thing I taught, and I'm pretty sure I bored them to death with the "Here is the thousands place and here is the ten thousands place.  Remember that, okay?"

At some point, I realized that learning can actually be fun, and decided to try different ways of teaching place value.  Here are 5 fun ideas for teaching place value, value, and comparing/ordering whole numbers!

1.  The Secret Number Game

If you're like me, you probably have to write these down ahead of time, but it doesn't take much time.  Here's an example:

Clue #1:  The number in the tens place is the number of sides on a square.
Clue #2:  The number in the hundred thousands place is the number of legs on a spider.

Get the idea?  Kids LOVE this!

2.  Make a Number Game

Have students draw a number (0 - 9) on a sheet of paper.  Make sure they draw it big and dark so that it can be seen from the back of the classroom.  When they do that, call a few students to the front with their numbers.  If you call five students, you will have five numbers.  Then, ask the students to create the largest or smallest number using their digits.  Then, ask questions to the class.

Which student is in the thousands place?
What is the value of Johnny's number?

3.  Place Value Cards

Each student needs numbers 0 - 9 with two commas (or one or three, depending on grade level).  You can have the students create these, or they can be easily created using your computer.  Then, the students can cut them out quickly.

Ask students to make numbers... like...

Create the number 12,485
Create a number with a 7 in the tens place.
Create a number that is greater than 327 and less than 492

Then, you can have the students read their numbers out loud.  This will help you to realize whether they know how to say the numbers correctly.

4.  Make the Largest (or Smallest) Number:  No planning involved!!

Put kids in groups of 2 (or 3, if needed) and have them use their journals or paper for this activity.  The goal of the game is for the students to make the highest or lowest number, whichever you decide at the beginning, and beat their partner.

Just tell the kids how many digits the number will need to have.  So, say "This number will have 5 digits", which should prompt the students to draw 5 lines on their paper.  Then, start calling out numbers.  Pick any random number.  Here's how it should go.

Tell students they are trying to make the largest (or smallest) number they can using the digits you call out.  Call out the number 8.  The students put the number in one of the 5 places they have on their paper.  Then, call out the number 5.  The students put the 5 somewhere on their paper.  When you have called out all 5 digits, have them reveal their numbers to their partners.  Whoever has the largest (or smallest) number gets a point.  They can keep their own score.  Repeat until you're ready to move on!

FYI:  The kids should be hiding their numbers from their partner so they can't see until they reveal their final answer.

5.  Place Value Hangman

Think about a number.  Let's say it has 7 digits.  Draw a hangman pole on your board.  Then put lines where the numbers will go.

___ , ___ ___ ___ , ___ ___ ___

Have the kids start guessing.

The can say things like:
Is there a 5 in the tens place?
Is there a 4 in the millions place?

Sometimes they will get all the digits right and you can have them say the number, or have the whole class say the number.  Sometimes, they won't get the number, so just fill it in and have them say the number.

We also have a great unit for sale on TpT that incorporates several of these ideas and includes fun activities for comparing/ordering, adding/subtracting, and multliplying/dividing... pretty much anything to do with whole numbers and operations.  Click the link below to see it!

Find it here:
Wishing you a wonderful school year!