28 Feb 2016

The must-have resources for teaching place value

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Here are the go-to resources in my toolbox that I bring out whenever I teach place value and number concepts. Aside from your standard MABs (base 10 blocks), bundled sticks, place value charts, and numeral expanders, I regularly use...

Number cards. I think it is SO important to expose our students to a variety of number representations. We always use digit cards for tasks, but we can also work with numbers in word form or in expanded form. Using different number representations is important for a strong number sense and is great for differentiation. 

Practicing ordering numbers? Use mixed representations as an added challenge and discuss the patterns that can be found (below is a screenshot of an activity when we looked at the patterns of the numbers when ordered from least to greatest).

You can find the 0-120 Number Cards in different representations HERE.

Beadstrings. These are coloured beads in groups of 10. They are great for partitioning but also other number concepts like skip counting, number fact strategies, etc. I've also seen pipe cleaners with 20 beads on them if you're teaching a specific strategy with numbers less than 20 and you don't want to be overwhelmed by 100 beads.


Number fans. These are perfect for those quick making numbers games. I also like to use them during the review/ploughback part of a lesson e.g. "Make me the number that has 9 ones and 2 tens". There is also a place value number fan set from Sparklebox.

Paper clips and magnetic paddlepop sticks. These are so much fun! Great for bundling and regrouping. It's a great visual for the kids as they can easily see ten single paper clips on each stick. I used magnetic tape and the wider craft sticks to make these.

Place value cards in two forms, as stand up cards and flat cards with a HTO chart. These are pretty self explanatory - great for expanded number form and looking at the value of each digit in a number. 


I believe these can be found on the K-3 Resources site here and a Google search for 'folded place value tents' will give you the second card set. 

Styrofoam cups. I don't have a photo of my own set, but here's a photo from Google. These are great for counting on/back from any number and especially helpful at bridging ten - what happens when you get to a zero in the ones place?
Check out Susan Downing's page to view a picture of these and for instructions to make them.

Digital abacus. I've found this is particularly helpful when dealing with internal zero as students can still see the stick without any beads on it. I use this one from www.ictgames.com
I love that all of these resources are so hands-on and can be used in lots of ways to teach place value and number concepts. As they say, 'hands on, minds on!'.

Are there any other resources you find useful for teaching place value?


Don't forget to follow me on Pinterest for an ever growing collection of ideas!

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