# How to Teach Place Value

Place value is one of my absolute favorite topics to teach in math. However, when I first started teaching, I had absolutely no clue how to teach place value. It seems easy enough, but it can certainly get pretty mundane and boring after awhile.

Over my years of teaching, I found some pretty creative ways to make teaching place value way more fun for our students. I’m sharing 5 place value activities with you today that can help add a little something extra into your instruction.

## How to Teach Place Value

### Activity 1: Place Value Ring Toss

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen me share about this game last month in my Math Monday series. Place value ring toss (or bean bag toss) is a fun place value activity to practice writing numbers in standard, word, expanded, or unit form.

To play, you need either a ring toss game with several rings, or some bins and something to toss. You can pretty much use anything to make this work.

1. Label the pegs of your ring toss or the bins with each place value number – ones, tens, hundreds, etc.
2. Students will then take turns tossing the rings/bean bags/other items and landing them in the different spots.
3. As they throw, the rest of the class is keeping a tally of where they land on a place value chart.
4. Once a student is done tossing, tell the class to write the number in a certain form. Students will use the tallies they kept to determine the number and write it in the correct form.
5. Once students are ready, do a quick check of their boards before choosing another student to do the ring toss.
6. Repeat until all students have had a turn.

I love this game, because not only is it fun, ALL students are kept busy! No one is standing around waiting for their turn. Everyone is participating the whole time and getting that place value practice in.

### Activity #2: Human Number Line

Another idea for how to teach to place value is to do a human number line. This place value activity is great for practicing ordering numbers, and you can even throw in some practice with writing numbers in different forms as well.

#### To play:

1. Give each student a card with a number on it. This number can be written in any form (and they don’t all have to be written in the same form).
2. Students wear or keep the card with them. On the teacher’s cue, students quietly get up, move to a designated area of the room, and line up in the correct order according to the number each student has. Teacher may indicate to order in least to greatest or greatest to least order.
3. Teacher will do a quick check to make sure they are in the right order.
4. Once teacher has verified accuracy, students should switch cards and sit back down. Repeat as many times throughout the day as desired.
5. OPTIONAL: Time students each time and encourage them to beat their time.

This is a great way to get practice in with ordering numbers, and get your students up and moving throughout the day!

### Activity #3: Last Number Standing

This place value activity is super easy and can be done with just a few minutes left in the day. All students need is a whiteboard or piece of paper.

1. Students each write a number on their board or paper. You may want to give some guidelines, such as everyone should write a 3-digit number.
2. All students stand up, showing their number.
3. The teacher will give various place value criteria, such as “7 in the tens place” or “the value of the hundreds place is 300.” If a student’s number meets this criteria, they sit down.
4. Continue until only one student is left standing.

This is a quick place value game that requires no preparation! Students must use critical thinking skills and place value knowledge to determine if their number is being described or not. Students love this game, too!

### Activity #4: Who Am I?

Another quick place value activity that is easy to implement is to play a round or two of Who Am I?

1. Write numbers on sticky notes and stick one on the back of each student.
2. Students go around the room asking yes or no questions to determine what their number is. Questions might include things like: “Do I have more than 5 tens?” or “Is my number even?” They may wish to take notes as they are given clues to help them figure out their number.
3. Once they have figured out their number, they should move it to the front of their shirt. They may continue helping other students until all students have figured out their number.
4. If desired, you can give each student a new number and play again.

That’s it! This is a great way for students to practice using place value language to describe numbers.

### Activity #5: Do a Room Transformation

Room transformations are a great way to take an otherwise lackluster concept and add some sparkle! A room transformation is when you transform your classroom into something else and incorporate fun learning activities along the way.

One example for a place value room transformation would be to do a Place Value Hospital. Students pretend to be doctors as they perform number surgery, make diagnoses based on place value symptoms, match numbers to their correct x-ray, and fulfill prescriptions in the pharmacy by sorting numbers.

Room transformations can be easy to implement and don’t have to cost a lot of money! For example, for Place Value Hospital, you can simply wear a lab coat and put up a sign indicating your room is now a hospital. If you want, you may be able to get a local hospital to donate gloves, caps, or surgical attire for your students to wear, too!

## Teaching Place Value Should Be Fun!

If you’re struggling with how to teach place value in a fun way, try out some of these activities and see if it makes a difference. Teaching place value shouldn’t be a struggle – it should be fun!

• ### Jessica

Kayla, I love all these ideas. I am currently teaching my place value unit and I can’t wait to incorporate some of these ideas into my lessons. I really appreciate you sharing them!

• ### The Average Teacher

Thank you so much, Jessica! I hope your students enjoy the activities!

• ### Casie Brooks

My daughter has a hard time with place value and we have tried so many strategies, or so I thought! I can’t wait to do the human number line and last number standing to practice place value more! Thank you for these great tips and ideas!

• ### The Average Teacher

Youāre so welcome, Casie! I hope these activities are helpful and your daughter enjoys them!

• ### Nicole

I love the first activity here! I haven’t used it yet but it is a great activity for our hands on learners. I love all of these activities though, thank you so much for sharing!

• ### The Average Teacher

My students loved that one, too! Youāre so welcome, thanks for reading!

• ### Leslie

I love the Place Value Hospital. My students always enjoy room transformation so much. Thank you for sharing so much value!

• ### The Average Teacher

Youāre so welcome!! Room transformations are so fun.

• ### Megan

Such great and engaging ideas! I will be sharing with my colleagues!

• ### The Average Teacher

Thank you Megan! I appreciate it!

• ### Allie

I love all of your ideas – I agree that teaching place value should be fun! I love the games that are quick to implement as a warm up or time filler! You always have such great ideas for math – thank you!

• ### The Average Teacher

Thank you, Allie! I appreciate it!

• ### Rachel

Every single thing is something I could incorporate in my classroom right now! Thanks for all the wonderful ideas!

• ### The Average Teacher

Youāre so welcome, Rachel! Iām glad these ideas are useful to you!

• ### Coach

I love this idea! I teach place value to the hundred thousands place. Would you be able to make a place value hospital to fit that grade level?

• ### Kayla

Hi Coach! My Place Value Hospital resource actually includes extension activities at the end that you can add to the existing activities and those go up to the 100,000s place. š