A Place for Everything – 7 Fun Place Value Activity Ideas

I’ve mentioned in my addition activities post how much I enjoy planning and teaching Mathematics. I appreciate the amount of variation that comes in one subject, and have seen how engaging and fun it can be for students. When it comes to learning the basics in Maths, place value is such an important concept for students to understand. It carries over to almost every other topic in Maths, and helps children to visualise and utilise the numbers they are working with.

Understanding place value simply means understanding that the value of a number depends on its digits, and where those digits are placed. For example, the number 305 is five more than three hundred. However, some students may look at 305 and think that it represents 3+0+5 or three thousand and five. Children who lack confidence with place value skills will struggle whenever they are faced with large numbers or with tasks that involve working with more than one number, because they will become confused with the different digits. So, if place value sets such an important foundation for children in Maths, how can we teach it well? It can be tricky to teach something that seems so basic and ‘second nature’ to us as adults, but here are some ideas I’ve put together to help get you started.

Add Some Colour

We probably all remember being taught about the ones, tens and hundreds ‘columns’ in a number. This is one of the first things students learn about place value. To help them clearly distinguish between the different groups though, try using colour to highlight this. It’s such a simple idea, but can make a real difference in helping children recognise that each column represents a different value.

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Reference Hundreds Charts

Hundreds charts have SO many uses, and I truly think every classroom (and children’s room) should have them somewhere. I’ve talked about how useful they are when teaching addition before, but they are also so valuable when trying to show students how numbers are ordered and how they all fit together. They help students to keep track of their counting and to compare where numbers are placed in relation to each other.

If you’re after a set of hundreds charts to use with your students, click here for your copy of the set pictured below.

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Explore Money

Giving your students opportunities to work with money is a fantastic way to help them practise their place value skills. One easy activity to try with money is a little game I like to call ‘Words with Value’. To play, students are given a list of letters of the alphabet with a number value assigned to them. They then need to try and find words that add up to a certain amount. You can easily adapt this concept to suit the students that you’re working with.

If you want something ready to use, I’ve created a template for this game as part of my Money Games set, available here.

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Have a Number of the Day

I’ve used ‘Number of the Day’ activities in my classroom both within Maths lessons and as morning work. Regularly having students focus on a number and break apart its digits, gives them consistent practice with using place value. Simple tasks like this don’t take much time out of the day, but are fantastic at building children’s confidence with tricky concepts like place value.

Click here to find a copy of the morning work template pictured below.

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Use Task Cards

Again with the task cards? I know I’ve mentioned the wonderful uses of task cards in my addition series before, but they really do work! Every time I’ve used task cards, my students have been so much more interested than when they’ve been given the exact same information on a worksheet. I find it works especially well to give students one or two cards and then ask them to ‘trade’ cards with a friend once they’ve finished with their own. That way, they’re all working at their own pace and moving around too. Plus, they think it’s a grand game! When it comes to place value, I find that giving students opportunities to round numbers to the nearest 10, 100 or 1000 is a great way to get them thinking about where numbers are placed.

These Rounding Task Cards are ready to use and can be brought out time and time again as a regular review activity.

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Practise Different Forms

Once students become more confident with some of the skills already mentioned, it’s important that they are able to convert numbers between ‘standard form’, ‘word form’ and ‘expanded form’. Once students are able to go between the different representations of the same number, you’ll be able to see them grasping the topic of place value well. Simple practice tables like the template below, are an easy way to get students thinking about how to represent numbers in different forms.

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Try Mazes

Mazes are fun for all ages, and are one of my favourite maths resources. Whether using mazes to help students revise their addition skills or creating mazes specifically tailored to place value, they give students a chance to refine their skills and self-check their answers. I find that children also enjoy the extra challenge of getting through the maze, which can serve as a useful distraction to those students who don’t seem to get all that excited about Maths lessons.

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I hope you have fun using some of these ideas to help your children with place value! Use the links to buy your own copies of the resources I’ve referenced.

P.S. I love to hear how my tips and resources are helping you in your teaching, so leave a comment to let me know!

Do you want some homework activity ideas while you’re here? Then have a read through my blog post of fun homework activities here.

Have a question or a request? You can contact me at blueskydesignsbymrst@gmail.com

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