8 Ideas for Teaching Place Value

Math, Math Stations
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Place value is an important foundation skill for all students to master. It sets them up for success as they continue their journey through mathematics. After reading this post, you’ll have 8 ideas for teaching place value.

#1 – Place Value Books

I love using books to introduce new math topics! Here are a few of my favorites books to use when teaching place value.

Place Value by David A. Adler

Picture of Place Value book cover. Monkeys holding numbers above their head.

A Place for Zero by Angeline Sparagna LoPresti

Picture of book cover for A Place for Zero.

Earth Day – Hooray by Stuart Murphy

Picture of book cover for Earth Day Hooray

How Much is a Million by David M. Schwartz

Picture of book cover for How Much is a Million

#2 – Manipulatives

Manipulatives are so important for students to use when building math skills. Place value is no exception! I always have base-10 blocks on hand for my students to use when we are working on place value and other math skills. The blocks are very popular and some people also like using the place value discs to model different numbers.

Picture of base 10 blocks

#3 – Shorthand Base-10 Trick

In addition to using manipulatives, I like to have my students draw out their base-10 or place value model for numbers.  But, I don’t like them to spend hours trying to draw the ones, tens, hundreds, etc. Many of them like to try to draw each teeny tiny square within the hundreds block – we don’t have time for that lol.  So below in the picture you’ll see the short hand I teach them. This is much more efficient. Students draw a dot for ones, a stick for tens, a square for hundreds, and a square with a “th” in the middle for thousands.

Photo of short hand for place value blocks.

#4 – Food

Who doesn’t love food? We all know students are more engaged when food is involved. Base-10 blocks and drawings are great, but you can also incorporate food into the mix.  Students can represent numbers using Saltine crackers for the hundreds, pretzel sticks for the tens, and M&Ms or some kind of round candy for the ones.  And of course when they are done they can have a taste of their work!

Picture of saltine cracker, pretzel stick, and M&Ms.

#5 – Teaching Place Value Anchor Charts

I use anchor charts for all math topics including place value.  I like to create my anchor charts with my students so they are more engaged and part of the creation process which makes them more likely to refer back to it later.  After we create our charts, I hang them where they can see them so they can refer back to them as needed. Here are a few examples of ones I’ve created…

#6 – Differentiate Practice and Homework + FREEBIE

Students will need opportunities to practice and demonstrate their understanding of place value. I like to use these differentiated worksheets for independent practice, homework, and formative assessments!  My classes typically have multiple levels of students and these worksheets are differentiated into 3 levels so I can meet the needs of all of my students!  These worksheets are available in my TPT store>>> HERE.

Picture of place value worksheets.

You can also check out a FREE sample >>> HERE.

Picture of place value worksheets FREEBIE.

#7 – Place Value Activities + FREE Game

I love using a variety of place value activities during my math rotations or stations.  These activities are still focused on the standards, but provide opportunities for kids to move around and work with a partner.  

Here are a few options:

Great for Around the Room or Scoot – 

Expand It – Practice using expanded notation

Write It – Practice writing numbers in standard form from word form

Place Value Around the Room Task Cards – great review of a variety of place value skills

Partner Opportunities:

Read It – Students can practice reading the numbers to each other – this could also be done chorally whole group

Show Me the  Number – This activity is great for kids to use the base-10 blocks to build the numbers.  2- and 3-Digit Numbers

3- and 4-Digit Numbers

Picture of Reading Numbers Activity


Roll and Compare – Students can practice comparing 2-, 3-, or 4-digit numbers using comparison symbols. This game is great to play during rotations or stations.

Picture of comparing game.

You could also save 20% by grabbing all of the Place Value Activities in my Place Value Bundle.

#8 – Digit Place

This is one of my favorite games to play with my students when I am teaching place value. This game can be played whole group – it’s great for a math warm-up or a Morning Meeting Activity and could eventually be played with partners once students get the hang of it.  

Here’s how you play:

  1. You make 3 columns on the white board – Guess | Digits | Place
  2. I also put up numbers 0-9 so we can cross off numbers after we eliminate them – there is a lot of strategy in this game too.
  3. You think of a secret number that the kids will have to figure out – this can be 2-digit, 3-digit, 4-digit, etc – depending on your class’s needs.
  4. Your students will guess a number. *Let’s say my secret number is 352.  They guess 201.  I will then write their guess in the guess column and write a 1 in the digits and a 0 in the place because they got one of the digits correct (2), but that digit was not in the correct place.
  5. We keep going until we get to the correct number

*This game has some strategy to it too.  I will often have students figure out if the guess all of one number it can help us quickly figure out what the 3 digits are. For example, if they guess 999 and I say 0 numbers are correct – then we know 9 isn’t one of the numbers.

Photo of Digit Place Game for Teaching Place Value Ideas
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