Place Value

Every year I start off teaching Place Value in math...and every year I cringe at the thought when I first start out! I'm not sure why this is.  I haven't decided if its because it just seems to be so hard for the kids to grasp in the beginning, if its because its the first content to get into, or if its just because I struggle to find activities I like that really work.

I'm happy to report that this year, yes I still cringed, but it was short lived!  Thanks to some good old research on fellow blogging site and some tips and tricks I picked up at a conference this summer, it went much more smoothly than I thought it would and my kids really enjoyed it.

So here's the scoop:  If you haven't yet, find you a really good interactive notebook.  There are some GREAT ones on TpT!  I purchased a big bundled one this year from Blair Turner and she had some great activities (here is the link to my purchase.)  I also found a FREEBIE on Teaching With a Mountain View that was FABULOUS!

Aside from my interactive journal that I used as part of the introduction of our unit I also made these gems. (This came from my summer workshop.)

This is so simple to make and works for lots of different activities.  You buy the large pill bottles from the dollar store and you put a dice in each compartment.  Then put tape of the side with the letters to keep it closed when the student shakes it.  Students read the numbers from the other side.

I teach third and we only do place value to the hundred thousands.  For this reason I only put a dice in compartments Monday through Saturday.  I started with white so the students knew where to start reading their numbers.

I just called it our Place Value Shaker for lack of a better name.

So here are Three activities you can use this for:

1. Shake and read the number or shake and write the number in groups or for a center.

2.  Shake and write under the document camera.

Have students practice writing the number in expanded form, standard form, or word form.  I did this and let them write with dry erase marker on their desk.  When their team was finished they sat down. First team to finish picked a member of their group to come up and shake it for the next round.  They LOVED this! (see photo)

3.  Shake and write the value under each place.

When we wrapped up this game we did a place value sort to see how the students did with understanding the different ways to write numbers.  I did the first Place Value Sort in partners and then the next day we did a second one as an assessment.

To complete the sort students need scissors and glue. The fold a large sheet of Manilla Paper into four columns.  The glue one header in each section, then glue all standard form squares down.  When finish they match up the other columns accordingly.  It is a great reinforcer activity.  I have them raise their hand to have them check before they can glue them down.  When I've checked a section I stamp it.  Easy way to grade quickly.

You can find the sort by clicking here.

If you like these fun activities you might also enjoy:


  1. I love the idea of the pill bottle compartments. I'm on my way to the store after school today! Thanks so much for sharing this :)

    A Teaspoon of Teaching

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