5 Fun Place Value Activities for Big Kids

If your students are anything like mine, you probably find the need to constantly spiral place value instruction throughout the year.   A solid understanding of our base 10 system is so crucial for students. Because of this, it is essential we help build our kids place value and base 10 foundation to ensure they are prepared for more advanced middle school mathematics and beyond. 

With that being said, I often times find myself wanting to smash my head against the wall because I am at a loss for even one more way to present these concepts in a way they will make it “click” for every student.  I do however have a handful of tried and true activities, games, and centers that my students love.  I find that these go a long way in helping upper elementary students cement their place value understanding.   In addition, they also infuse a good dose of fun!   Here are a few ideas you can incorporate into your classroom tomorrow.

1.     Place Value Cups

Give each group of students in your classroom a collection of 11 cups.  Have them mark the lip of each cup each cup with one digit.  The first cup should have a 0, the second cup a 1, the third a 2, and so on.  The 11th cup should have decimal point.  After the groups have their cups marked, have them stack them up in a pyramid in the center of their table.  Call out a number of your choice  (Example: 3,476 or 247.89).  On your signal, have the students race to stack up their cups to form the number you called out.  The first group to display the correct number wins that round.  To extend this, your next instruction could be to construct a number that has a value that is 100 times greater or 10 times smaller than the one they just built.  

2.   Place Value Battleship

Who doesn’t love Battleship?  My students love to play games.  Place Value Battleship is always a huge hit.  Students construct their own number (hidden from their opponent) and take turns calling out a place and a number searching for a “HIT.”  The player to first find all of their opponent’s ships and call out their constructed number is the winner!  This game is easily differentiated for whole numbers, to the tenths, or to the hundredths.
3.  Place In This World – World Populations

Kids love to research! Place in This World is always a huge hit!  Try having your students pick five countries from around the world and researching to find the each country’s population.  Next, have them record the populations and then write the populations in expanded form and word from.  Have them multiply and divide each of the populations by powers of 10. Finally, have the students place the populations in order from least to greatest!

4.  Spin to Win Game 
Give pairs of students a Spin to Win game board and have them take turns spinning and trying to build numbers with the largest possible value.  When all of the spaces are filled, the player with the most numbers with the larger value is the winner!  Kids beg for this game and it also is great for comparing and ordering numbers through the hundredths!

5.    Clothesline

Clothesline is so much fun!  It is a hit every year! Like the place value cups (above) each group of students is given 11 clothespins and asked to number them 0 through 9 plus one for a decimal.   Each group is also given a length of yarn or rope to act as the clothesline.  When the clothespins from each group are labeled, two people from each group should hold the ends of the yarn and stretch it out to form the clothesline.  Have the students place their clothespins in a pile in the center of their table.  Call out a number of your choice (Example: 8,237 or 923.19).  On your signal, have the students race to hang the clothespins on the line to form the number you called.  The first team to have the number correctly hung on the clothesline is the winner!  It is an excellent idea to follow up by having the students multiply or divide their number by powers of 10 to show the shifting of the decimal.    

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Place-Value-Differentiated-Centers-Activities-2867584These are just a few ideas to get you started.  If you are looking for more ideas, I have compiled a collection of 10 differentiated centers, games, and activities that are perfect for teaching and reinforcing place value concepts in upper elementary school classrooms.  In this resource you will find differentiated Place Value Battleship Boards, differentiated Spin to Win game boards, Place in This World recording sheets and so much more.  In addition, this resource also has a collection of great printables that can be used for homework, classwork, or simple assessments. 

What are some ideas you use to teach place value in your classroom? Please feel free to respond with your ideas!   


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