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Teaching Place Value

Lori Soard
girl with counting blocks

Are you stuck when it comes to teaching place value? This mathematical concept lends itself well to a variety of interactive math lessons for the kids to enjoy.

Place Value Basics

Teaching place value provides the basics for adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing larger numbers. Worksheets offer traditional pencil and paper practice while hands-on activities give the kids the chance to actually apply the concept. Teaching children how to sort objects into groups of 1s, 10s and 100s gives them an introduction to basic place value.

If you need help downloading the printable worksheet, check out these helpful tips.

Charts and Displays

Visual reminders of place value provide a good reference for kids. Make charts to display on the wall.

Number Cards

Show the numbers in a new way that reinforces place value. Write the number at the top of the card. Draw the corresponding number of tens bars and individual blocks. For example, the number 37 would display a picture of three bars of ten and seven individual blocks. Below the picture, write "3 tens and 7 ones." This helps the kids think in terms of place value.

Labeled Number

Write a large number on a chart. The size of the number depends on how many places you are teaching. For example, if you're teaching up to the thousands place, write a number that goes up to that place value. Above each individual number, write the name of its place value.


Manipulatives help demonstrate the grouping of numbers that designates place value.

Types of Manipulatives

Nearly any object works for grouping and counting. Consider the items you have around the house for inexpensive counters.

  • Interlocking cubes: Any type of cube or block that clicks together works well. The kids count out groups of 10 and hook them together for easy groupings.
  • Rubber bands & Q-tips: Have the kids count out groups of 10 Q-tips, using a rubber band to hold them together.
  • Cups: Small plastic cups work well to hold groups of 10 small objects. Any object works as long as 10 of them fit easily into the cup. Ideas include rocks, beans, identical toys or crayons.

Using Manipulatives

There are several ways to use these objects for reinforcing place value.

  • Call out a number and have the child represent it with the corresponding groups of 10 and individual counters. For example, to represent 73, the student would make 7 groups of 10 counters plus 3 individual counters.
  • Reverse the previous activity by handing the child several groups of 10 counters plus individual counters. The child determines the number of counters based on the groupings.
  • Hand the child a large pile of counters. Have her make as many groups of 10 as possible. If there are more than 10 groups of 10, have her combine them to make a group of 100.
  • Provide two different piles of counters that are already grouped into 10s. Have the child add the two piles by combining the groupings and individual counters.

Other Place Value Activities

It never hurts to teach a math concept in multiple ways. If your homeschool kids need more practice with place value, try some of these activities.

Building Numbers

Each child needs a set of index cards with the numbers from 0 to 9, with one number on each card. Create a place value chart for each child. This is as simple as drawing a square for each place value. Add labels above each square to reinforce the name of each spot. Call out a number and have the students build the number on the place value chart.

Playing Card Place Value

For this game, you need a deck of playing cards and the place value chart. Determine how far you want to go on the place value chart and deal out that number of cards to each child. So, if you want to go to the ten thousands place, each child needs five cards. For the millions place, each child needs seven cards. The goal is to build the highest number. Each child turns over his first card and places it on the chart. They continue flipping over cards and placing them on the chart. Have each child read his final number to reinforce the concept. The child with the highest number is the winner.

Dice Practice

Dice and a place value chart create another review game for place value. Similar to the playing card activity, the kids take turns rolling the dice to build numbers. The child who builds the highest number on each roll wins that round.

Place Value Worksheets

Once your child understands the concept of place values, reinforce your lessons with these printable worksheets:

  • Simple Tens and Ones Place Value Worksheet: Perfect for beginning place value lessons at a second grade level. Focuses on the tens and ones.
  • Up to Ten Thousand Place Value Worksheet: Offers place value problems up to the ten thousands. Worksheet is approximately third grade level work.
  • Camp Ladybug Place Values Worksheet: The ladybugs are on their way to camp in buses. Figure out where each ladybug goes and insert place values. This worksheet is for third and fourth grade students.
  • Decimal Place Value Worksheet: Children in grades three through five begin to incorporate the concept of place value with decimals. This worksheet teaches decimal place value through the thousands. The people at EdHelper allow you to print this worksheet along with an answer key, as well as offer some additional place value worksheets for different levels of learning.
  • Enchanted Forest Place Values Worksheet: Fourth graders can use this worksheet to learn the decimals through the thousandths place, created by Math Blaster.

Understanding Place Value

The variety of activities used for teaching place value reinforces the concept for kids. Their understanding and comfort with place value grows with frequent opportunities to practice. Reviewing place value periodically throughout the year helps the kids with other mathematical functions, solidifying their math skills.

Teaching Place Value