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7 Engaging and Fun Place Value Activities to increase Student Success

Teaching place value can sometimes prove to be a difficult task. Children are concrete learners, and place value is much more abstract.   As teachers, we must find ways to make the abstract concepts of math something our students can understand and connect too.  Over the years I’ve tried lots of different place value activities with varying levels of success.  Today I’m excited to share some of my favorite place value activities that find their way into my classroom year after year. 

Help your students master place value concepts with these fun place value activities for the classroom

Teaching Place Value

Many researchers say place value is the most fundamental early math concept students need to learn. They can’t really progress in math until they understand these basic concepts. Place value is the building block for teaching the decimal system, regrouping, and multi-digit numbers. Without place value, your students wouldn’t know the different between $5 and $500 when they’re trying to buy that new bicycle. As teachers, we know how important it is, and how difficult it can sometimes be, for students to understand place value. So let’s try and and make it relatable and fun!

Fun Place Value Activities Students Love

1. Games

Who doesn’t love a good classroom game? Games are great ways to get students involved and excited about learning. My favorite place value game is called Last Man Standing.  It’s a great game for students to connect with place value concepts in a personal way.  

To play, everyone needs a whiteboard and a marker. We all begin by writing down a random 3 digit number on our boards. If your standards involve larger or smaller numbers you can easily adjust the number of digits in the number.  Then call out some number clues using place value terms: “If you have a four in the tens place sit down.  If you have a 7 in the hundreds place sit down.  If you have a 3 in the ones place sit down.” This continues until there is only one person left standing. That person then shows me the correct number in model form to be the winner.  Grab a free Last Man Standing certificate you can use in your classroom, along with some other place value activities. The kids love playing this game and it is so.much.fun!  Any time students beg for a learning game it’s a keeper for sure!

Games like Last Man Standing are a great way to engage students in learning and help them make a personal connection to place value concepts.

2. Learning With Songs

There’s something about music that helps students learn and remember.  Even the most difficult concepts are made easier with a song.  That’s what made old favorites like Schoolhouse Rock so popular!  I mean, if you watched those as a kid don’t you still know the function of a conjunction and how a bill becomes a law?  Anything that can help my students learn will find its way into my classroom and music definitely has.  We have songs for a variety of topics, including place value. 
It’s time for a good ol’ military cadence with our place value song.  This song, to the tune of “I don’t know, but I’ve been told”,  is a fun way to learn foundational place value concepts for ones, tens and hundreds.  Grab the words and motions for this place value song for FREE, along with some other place value goodies!

3. Hands-On Fun

Play-dough is another fun tool to use for practicing place value. It is perfect for whole class, small group or centers.  I love to call out a number and have students build it using play dough.  We make play dough place value blocks (a square for a hundred, a snake for a ten and a small ball for a one) and get busy building numbers. It’s a great tactile approach and helps cement our place value learning with another learning style.
Using hands-on activities like play dough, shaving cream and blocks can help students better understand abstract place value concepts
Shaving cream is another super fun tool to use when learning place value, or anything really.  A small squirt of shaving cream on the desk or table creates the perfect drawing space.  Students can easily draw a place value chart and create numbers by drawing with their finger in the shaving cream.  When it is time for the next number we simply erase and start again.  And as a bonus . . . the desks are so clean when this activity is done and the classroom smells great! 
Traditional place value blocks are also a great hands-on tool for students when learning place value.  There’s something about the physical activity of choosing and moving these manipulatives around that makes these abstract concepts more concrete.

Daily Place Value Practice

Practice makes perfect! With a skill as important as place value, we owe it to our students to make sure that they get all the practice they need to master this skill.  It’s a good idea to incorporate place value into your daily routines. I like to weave it into our morning work and morning meeting time together. My Number of the Day resource is perfect for this. Students get a daily review of place value concepts while working on other number sense concepts too.  
Number of the Day is a great way to get daily review of important place value concepts

The Number of the Day resource is jam packed with skills such as:

  • Even or odd
  • Hundreds, tens, and ones
  • Skip counting
  • Adding and subtracting
  • Drawing place value using blocks or sticks
  • Word From
  • 1, 10, and 100 more and less
Every morning, students have a new Number of the Day worksheet on their desk.  At the beginning of the year we work them together, but it isn’t long before students can complete it independently.  It also helps make our arrival times less chaotic.  Students know that after they arrive and unpack, they begin working on Number of the Day.  
I love this resource so much that I want you to try two weeks for FREE! Grab your free weeks of 2 and 3 digit Number of the Day fun here! 
And if you love it and are ready to use Number of the Day all year long then you can find it in my store at Teachers Pay Teachers. 
3 digit Number of the Day is a great daily number sense and place value review for first and second grade

Digital Place Value Activities

Boom cards are all the rage, and for good reason! These digital task cards are not only fun, but they provide students with immediate feedback as they practice.  The use of technology really engages students.  These Place Value Boom Cards will have your students working with 3 digit numbers in no time.
Digital place value activities, like these Boom Cards, engage students and provide self-checking practice
Students will start off with a given three-digit number They will have to pick how many hundreds, tens, and ones are in each number. This is followed by numbers shown in place value blocks. Students will then have to pick the correct number based on the picture model. Next, they will practice writing a given number using expanded form. With the variety of activities, students stay challenged and engaged the entire time. Boom cards are a win-win for everyone! Grab these Place Value Boom Cards now! 

Color by Place Value 

I don’t know about you, but my class always enjoys a good color-by-code activity. There is something magical about watching a hidden picture come to life. And the beauty of it is that they don’t even realize how hard they are working at mastering skills while discovering the picture as they color.  There’s more “problems” on a typical color by code activity than I would ever assign in a math worksheet.  But there are no moans or groans for the Color by Code activity.  
Color by Code for Place Value is a great activity that provides lots of practice problems

For ready-to-use color by place value activities check out my back-to-school Color by Code Place Value  resource.  Included are 6 different differentiated activities. Your students will practice. . .

  • model form
  • standard form
  • word form
  • expanded form
The activities have a “school theme” which makes them perfect to use any time of the year.

Math and Art

One of my all-time favorite place value activities connects art to math.  Students are provided with pictures of place value blocks that they must use to create a picture.  Once they are done, they must determine the number of hundreds, tens and ones used in their picture.  The students LOVE creating their place value pictures and are so excited to share them with each other once they are done.  
Combine math and art with this fun place value picture.  Get everything you needed to complete this activity for free in this free place value download
Grab this Place Value Free Resource and get everything you need to make place value pictures in your classroom (along with the place value song and the game certificate).

Place Value is Fun! 

We have lots of fun learning about place value in my classroom.  I hope that you have found some ideas that you can use in your classroom too!  Pin this image to your favorite math Pinterest board so you can come back when you need fun place value activities for your classroom.
Place value is a foundational math skill our young students must learn.  These fun place value activities will help your students master these important concepts.

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