Place value comes up every year throughout elementary school. But what makes it so difficult for our students to understand and what can we do to make place value instruction more clear for our most struggling students.
Quick and simple place value games can help your students to build understanding and gain fluency with place value concepts. But before I get to the games…
Where do we start and where are we going?
- In Kindergarten, students are building a foundation by noticing that when they have ten ones and some more ones they create a teen number.
- In first grade, place value explodes with students understanding that ten ones can be put together to create a unit called a “ten” and that two digit numbers are really telling the number of “tens” and “ones”.
- In second grade this understanding is extended as students work their way up to 1,000 noticing that this pattern of grouping ten of a unit together yields a new type of unit.
- In third grade students round and continue adding and subtracting multi-digit numbers… not a big place value year in terms of developing new ideas around the base ten system 🙂
- In fourth grade students resume the extension of units all the way up to 1,000,000 and begin to notice that instead of just saying “ten of a unit yields a new unit” that they can describe the relationship of units next door do one another by saying 10 times more or 10 times less.
- In fifth grade students tie together each of these previous understandings and apply them not only to whole numbers but to decimal numbers as well!
What does this mean for my instruction?
What will this look like on a daily basis?
- Use SO MANY manipulatives when your students are learning about place value.
- Use a variety of manipulatives- don’t just get stuck using base ten blocks daily! When your students use a variety of manipulatives they are deepening their understanding and building connections between these models.
- Be thoughtful about using pre-grouped, non-grouped, proportional and non-proportional models when choosing manipulatives and representations.
- Link manipulatives, representative models and abstract equations together. For example, if you can show your understanding using place value disks, that’s great! Can you write an equation that matches what you just did with your disks?
- Repetition, repetition, repetition. My third grade teacher used to say “Practice doesn’t make perfect, practices makes permanent!” That means that when our students are practicing these skills it is important that they are practicing correctly and that they are practicing in great volume. What they do well and often will become permanent!
So, What About The Games?
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