Hi everyone! I want to share some tips about learning place value. Having a deep root in understanding place value plays such an important role in grasping math. This post is geared for teaching place value in first grade, but I put in some ideas for 3-4 digit number too. That way, second and third grade teachers can have some take aways, along with those wanting some ideas to challenge some advanced first graders.

Tip #1: Let students show numbers with 10-blocks and 1-blocks. This will help them to understand that the tens place stands for a group of tens. (For second or third grade, add in numbers with the hundreds place and 100-block.) One idea is to have students draw numbers and show those numbers with the blocks.

(Please excuse the card, it is the wrong one. It should say 65. Each cup has a group of 10 bears.)

Tip #2: Break apart numbers by identifying how many tens and ones. (For second or third grade, have students identify how many hundreds, tens, and ones.) Students can draw a card and write it out on a sheet of paper.

Tip #3: Have students roll or spin a number for each place and merge it into a number. While regular dice only go to 6, you can still have students roll out some numbers. Have students identify the place value of each number and then write the number.

Tip #4: Give students opportunity to show numbers in expanded form. Students can draw number cards and write out the number in expanded form.

Tip #5: Have students solve mystery number problems. I like this concept because it taps into some more critical thinking skills when students have to do things like figure out a number between 22 and 31 that has a five in the ones place.

Tip #6: Incorporate money with place value learning. Think about it dollar bills are the 100’s place. Dimes are the 10’s place. Pennies are the 1’s place. Students can count the money and identify how many tens and ones.

Tip #7: Count by tens in various forms. Give students plenty of opportunity to count by groups of ten with ten frames, number cards, hundred charts, and whatever else you can dream up. Let them not only tell you how many total, but how many groups of ten.

Tip #8: Compare numbers. Let students compare a mix of numbers. Have them compare numbers that depend on looking at the tens place to determine the bigger number. Have them compare numbers that depend on the ones place. For second and third grade, have them compare numbers that depend on the hundreds place. For an activity, students can draw two cards. Have them write the first number they draw first and the second number they draw second. Then have them use the comparison symbols to show greater than or less than.

Tip #9: Order numbers from either greater to lesser or from lesser to greater. You can have students draw five cards. Let them place the cards in order from lesser to greater or vice versa. Students can record this on a sheet of paper.

Tip #10: Let students work with concepts of one more, one less, ten more, and ten less. (For second and third grade, throw in concepts of a hundred more and a hundred less.) The concept of more than and less than can be tricky to some young learners, so I can’t recommend extra practice with this concept enough. Let students draw a number card. Then let them write ten more or less than as a number sentence. Let them do this for the ones place too. (Hundreds or even thousands place for second, third, and students who need more of a challenge.)

A tip for differentiating for first grade: I like to differentiate by providing students who are emerging with numbers that deal with up to 20 at first. Once they get a footing with that, they can move up to numbers up to 30 or beyond. Of course, you want them working with numbers up to a hundred in first grade, but it’s good to scaffold to get them to where they need to be with their understanding of place value. If they are struggling, breaking it down to lower numbers helps them to grasp that foundational understanding.

If you are wondering where all those fun no prep printables come from, they come from my Place Value No Prep for First Grade resource. Snag it here by clicking on the picture or by clicking here or on the picture.

Thanks for visiting The Candy Class blog. Happy teaching!

Jolene Mathew

On a Mission to Improve Literacy