Place value is a simple concept, but one that kids really need to master to be successful in math. Rote practice is one way to learn about it, but we think these free place value activities are much more likely to engage kids and make the knowledge stick.
1. Start with an anchor chart.
Help students understand and remember four ways to represent numbers and place value with an anchor chart. Turning the chart into a robot ups the fun factor!
2. Visualize place value with a foldable.
Use sentence strips and dry-erase tape to create a reusable math manipulative that reinforces place value concepts and expanded form.
Learn more: Teacher Thrive
3. Play a game of Place Value War.
Play this game with Uno cards or a classic deck with face cards removed. Each player has a number of piles (depending on which place values you’re working on) and lays down the top card from each. The players say the resulting numbers out loud (e.g. “five hundred thirty”) and the player with the highest number wins. For a fun variation, allow players to use the cards they flip to create the highest possible number.
Learn more: Childhood 101
4. Send them on a scavenger hunt.
Grab a stack of old magazines and newspapers and let kids loose to find examples of the place value challenges set in this scavenger hunt. Hit the link below to get the free printable.
Learn more: Primary Theme Park
5. Shake things up with Place Value Yahtzee.
Roll out the dice and try to beat your opponent as you fulfill the conditions of this special game of Yahtzee. Print the free game boards and get the rules at the link below. (Find more creative ways to use dice in your classroom here.)
Learn more: Games 4 Gains
6. Turn a pill box into a place value manipulative.
Stop by the dollar store for some weekly pill box containers, then use our free printable labels to turn them into dice shakers you can use for all kinds of place value activities.
7. Stack some paper cups.
While you’re at the dollar store, pick up some stackable paper cups. Number them 1 to 9 along the edge, and then use them to talk about place value as you stack them to create different numbers.
Learn more: The Imagination Tree
8. Enjoy a game of Whack It!
What kid doesn’t love to whack things with a fly swatter? Put that energy to good use by having them slap the swatter down on the correct values as you call them out.
Learn more: Creekside Learning
9. Build understanding with LEGO bricks.
You know your students love to build with LEGO bricks, so use them to reinforce place value concepts too. Hands-on place value activities are always the most fun!
Learn more: Teach Me Mommy
10. Take a journey on the Place Value Path.
This free printable game combines a traditional board game with bingo. Roll the dice to see which outer square you land on. Count up the number represented by the base ten symbols, and mark it on your bingo board. When you get 5 in a row, you win!
Learn more: The Measured Mom
11. Toss beanbags into place value bins.
Combine hand-eye coordination practice with math skills in this place value game. Label bins for tens, hundreds, etc. and choose a number. Kids toss numbered bean bags into the correct bins to win!
Learn more: Saddle Up for Learning
12. Keep track of school days in a pocket chart.
Each day, count how many days they’ve been in school this year by adding counters like ten frames to a pocket chart. The number climbs as the year goes on, building from ones to tens to hundreds.
Learn more: Jillian Starr Teaching
13. Snack and learn with rainbow math.
Use Froot Loops cereal pieces and pipe cleaners to learn tens and ones with this free printable activity. Don’t want to use cereal? Try beads instead.
Learn more: School Time Snippets
14. Read a book about place value.
We’re not talking about the paragraph in their math workbook that explains the concept. We mean one of these engaging and entertaining place value books that capture kids’ imagination while helping them understand how place value works and why it matters. There are plenty of options out there—here are a few of our favorites.
- Zero the Hero, Joan Holub/Tom Lichtenheld
- Sir Cumference and All the King’s Tens, Cindy Neuschwander/Wayne Geehan
- Place Value, David A. Adler/Edward Miller
15. Construct a tower of base ten blocks.
Base ten blocks are a popular math manipulative, and they’re perfect for teaching place value. This activity challenges kids to use the blocks to find three different ways to build a structure representing one thousand. New to base ten blocks? Here’s a good starter set from Amazon to try.
Learn more: Asheigh’s Education Journey
16. Make giant DIY ones and tens blocks.
Cut squares of brightly colored cardstock for ones, and tape together a series of them to create the tens. Then add smiley faces to the top just for fun, and have kids hold up the giant blocks to represent various numbers.
Learn more: The Kindergarten Smorgasboard
17. Shoot for the target with LEGO bricks.
LEGO bricks really are ideal for place value activities. Toss the bricks onto a homemade target with rings to represents ones, tens, and so on. Count the studs of each brick that lands on a place value ring, then add them up to get your final number. (See more LEGO math ideas here.)
18. Cut a pool noodle into tens and ones.
The nice thing about these DIY manipulatives is that they’re easy for little hands to handle. Cut pool noodles to represent tens and ones to give kids practice building numbers.
Learn more: The Kindergarten Smorgasboard
19. Use nuts and bolts to learn place value.
Looking for inexpensive ways to represent base 10? Try nuts and bolts! You can pick them up in bulk at the hardware store, and it’s easy to replace them if they get lost.
Learn more: The Measured Mom
20. Solve a place value puzzle.
Place value activities are still important for older kids. This advanced activity asks them to solve math word problems and write the solutions into the correct place on the grid. Get the free printable at the link below.
Learn more: Education.com
21. Complete a place value maze.
This advanced place value activity gives students practice adding hundreds, thousands, and higher. They find the next correct answer in the maze as they go along. Visit the link for these free printable mazes.
Learn more: Math Geek Mama
22. Walk along giant number lines.
We love place value activities that also get kids up and moving! For this one, use masking tape to create number lines for ones, tens, hundreds, etc. on the floor. Choose a number and use paper plates to mark the correct places on the number lines, or have kids stand on the correct mark instead.
Learn more: Hands on As We Grow
Math games really do help kids learn. Check out this list of the best online interactive math games for every grade level.
Looking for even more math games? Try these fun and free fraction games!
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