This Twist on Capture the Flag Teaches Kids All About Place Value

Math is more fun with flags!

Invite students to demonstrate their knowledge of expanded form by creating standard numbers using colored “flags” that represent place values, which they will obtain in an active game of Capture the Place Value! 

What you will need:

  • Red, yellow, blue and green construction paper
  • Pencils
  • Rulers
  • Scissors
  • Markers to write the values

What to do:

1. Cut long strips of construction paper for each value. These are the “flags.”

  • Red = Ones
  • Yellow = Tens
  • Blue = Hundreds
  • Green = Thousands

2. Toss the paper strips into a grocery bag. Each student chooses a strip without looking. This way, students don’t complain if they end up with a one instead of a thousand.

3. Next, take students to a large, open area. They tuck the paper strips into the back of their pants like a tail. Then, when the teacher shouts “Go!” they try to steal their peers’ flags. Once all of the flags are collected, students figure out their number based on how many of each color flag they captured!

4. Who has the largest number? Who has the smallest number? Did anyone end up with the same number? See if students can organize themselves into even and odd numbers. Can they round their numbers?


Note: This lesson can be differentiated using higher or lower values. Play using only two colors for ones and tens or add additional colors for students working with larger numbers.

Erin Bittman is a student at the University of Cincinnati, studying Early Childhood Education. Check out her blog E Is for Explore!