6 Ideas for Teaching Place Value + A Freebie

Practicing place value is no small task. In lower elementary classrooms in particular, students need to spend a lot of time practicing place value to really understand numbers and how they work. They will build on this as they move on to other skills like addition and subtraction. A solid foundation is key. To make your job easier, I've rounded up some ideas for teaching place value. This includes everything from books to videos to manipulatives to games and task cards and several FREEBIES!!

A round up of games, videos, books, manipulatives and freebies to help teach place value.

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Place Value Picture Books

A great way to launch a unit on place value or to start a lesson is to read a relevant picture book. I've saved you some time and linked up some great titles that you could add to your classroom library.

Place Value by David Adler In this fun book the monkeys are baking and realize that to get the number right, they can’t switch the numbers around and have to use place value to keep the numbers straight. 


 Zero the Hero by Joan Holub  The other numbers don’t think zero is important since he doesn’t do much in addition, subtraction, multiplication or division. But he proves that he is important when he swoops in to save the day. Lots of great math concepts included.


Sir Cumference and All the King's Tens by Cindy Neuschwander  Sir Cumference and Lady Di need to count guests that are showing up for a birthday party, but they keep getting more and more. They need to count by tens, hundreds and thousands to figure it all out. 


 Penguin Place Value by Kathleen Stone  This book shows different ways to represent numbers as the penguins try to count their catch.

This even has a sequel called More Penguin Place Value: Hundreds, Tens, and Ones. 

The King's Commissioners by Aileen Friedman  The king needs help counting all the commissioners he’s appointed, but everyone counts in a different way but gets the same answer. This book addresses place value but also gets into multiplication. 

 What’s the Place Value by Shirley Duke  This book teaches about the tens and ones place using popsicles.

Place Value Videos

Sometimes it helps to show a video or have a catchy song to help teach about place value. Try out some of these.
A fun catchy song!

More of a lesson in a 9 minute video explaining base ten and the number system.

This one talks about ones and tens using a place value house in a 4 minute video.

Another little song to teach place value.

This is like a mini lesson on ones and tens and covers place value in a 13 minute video.

Create a Reference for Your Students

Another great way to help cement the learning your students do, is to create some sort of reference guide that they can refer back to. This could be in the form of an anchor chart that is displayed in the classroom. 
Use place value interactive notebooks to give your students a resource tool that they can use as they learn this concept. Perfect for second grade.

You could also use a Place Value Interactive Notebook that allows students to create their own reference tool that they can refer back to. 

Check out my Place Value Pinterest board for examples of anchor charts and other engaging ways to teach place value. 

Place Value Manipulatives

Making math as hands on as possible is key to getting concepts like place value to stick. Here are some manipulatives that you can use with your students or model with when you are teaching. 

Base Ten Blocks are a great way for kids to see how ten ones equal a ten rod and ten rods equal a hundred, etc. Also great for working on addition and subtraction.
These place value discs are a fun way to practice bigger numbers than the base ten blocks can represent.
This number chart is helpful to give a visual of which number is in which place up to the thousands. So it isn't just a one, it is actually a one thousand.
A magnetic set of base ten blocks would be helpful to use as you model on a white board (assuming it is magnetic.)
Base ten block stamps could be useful to create quick worksheet and practice activities. It could also be for the kids to use. In my Place Value number book, students can cut and glue, draw or stamp the correct amount of base ten blocks to create the number. Stamps would just be something different to mix it up. 

Place Value Task Cards

I love using task cards to practice math skills because it breaks it down to just one problem per card. This means it is less overwhelming for your learners than a page full of problems to solve. Task cards can also be used in so many different ways with a small group, independently, as a whole class, etc. Looking for new ways to use task cards? Check out my post on FAQs about Task Cards for ideas on how to use them. I think my favorite might be as a movement activity.
Base ten task cards are the perfect way to review place value. Ideal for second grade!
Place Value Base Ten Block Task Cards

My place value task cards are designed for second grade, so it is numbers up to 1,000 and cover a variety of topics such as base ten blocks, place value overview, expanded form, comparing numbers and skip counting. I also have a free sample that includes a few cards from each set that you can try.
Digital task cards (Boom Cards) make teaching place value and expanded form more fun and engaging. Self checking, no prep cards make it perfect for a busy teacher.
Expanded Form Boom Cards

Digital task cards are another way to go, especially during distance learning. If your students have access to devices (tablets, computers, phones, etc.) they can use BOOM cards. These are digital task cards that still include only one problem per card, but they are self-correcting so students get instant feedback on their answers. Because these cards are so interactive, it is more like a game. New to Boom Cards? Check out my post all about Boom Cards here. 
Digital task cards (Boom Cards) make teaching place value more fun and engaging. Self checking, no prep cards make it perfect for a busy teacher.
Place Value Boom Cards

I've converted all of my paper place value task cards to digital BOOM cards so that teachers have the option of how to use them in the classroom. New to BOOM cards or just want an awesome freebie? Check out this set of place value sample cards BOOM cards. If you like those and want more cards, you can find my digital place value task cards here.

Place Value Games

Turning things into a game is always more fun, right? Place value is no exception. Give your students some games to use as practice. This is perfect for math centers or small group work, but could also be used independently. 
Place value file folder games are a low cost, easy to store way to make practicing place value more fun for your first or second graders.

Place file folder games are a low-cost way to create board games your whole class can enjoy. The nice thing about file folder games is that they are flat and easy to store, so they don't take up a lot of space.

Free place value game that makes writing numbers in standard form, expanded form and word form a lot more like a game.

Try this place value practice game to practice writing two and three-digit numbers in standard form, expanded form, base ten block form and word form. Make sure to grab this freebie and read more about it in this blog post.
Practice place value with this free matching game.

Another easy place value game to play is a simple matching game. Match the two or three-digit number to the picture of the base ten blocks that it matches. This has an apple and pumpkin theme which makes it perfect for fall, but you can play this freebie all year round.

Free Place Value Activities

FREE place value bump game to make practicing place value a lot more fun. Perfect for math centers, fast finishers or send home for students to play at home.

In addition to all the freebies you can grab in the task card and game section, I've got another new place value freebie for you. These are place value bump games. Bump is super easy to play (directions are printed on each board) and you will just need to add manipulatives for each player (mini erasers, math manipulatives, scraps of paper, etc.) and a spinner or pencil and paperclip to use as a spinner.

To download your free copy of Place Value Bump, just enter your name & email in the form below and the file will be emailed to you automatically. If you have any problems downloading your freebie, check out our FAQs section for tips and tricks.

A round up of games, videos, books, manipulatives and freebies to help teach place value. Perfect for first of second grade.