5 Activities for Teaching Place Value

I'm back with an all new "5 Activities for Teachingpost (click the link for more 5 Activity Ideas).  This one is all about Place Value.  Like many of you, I always like to start my math year with Place Value.  This post aims to take you past the traditional hands-on activities that students need like building and exchanging numbers using base 10 blocks, and hopefully gives you some new ideas to add to your collection.

1.  Interactive Math Journals - I always like to introduce new math concepts with an entry or two in our Interactive Math Journals.  I've got some fun ideas here on my blog that you can read some more about.  This one is from my original Interactive Math Journal.  Students identify the place value column of the highlighted digit.  You can see it HERE.

Another math journal idea is from my Interactive Math Journal 2.  This one has students identifying the place value columns from billions all the way up to the billions column.  You can read more about it HERE.

2.  Cup-Stacking Place Value Game - This one is SO much fun!  You need styrofoam cups (or any cups with a lip so you can write a digit on the lip).  Label each cup with a digit from 0-9 (I used a sharpie for this, and I wrote the digit on both sides of the lip).  Repeat for the number of cups you have.  The number of cups you need depend on the number of students playing, and how high you wish your numbers to go.  For a group of 3, playing to the hundred thousands, you will need 18 cups.  (I bought a pack of 20 at the dollar store).  To work with numbers in the billions, students would build a pyramid with 10 cups.

As quickly as they can they need to stack 6 random cups in a pyramid, then collapse the pyramid so they have a stack of 6 cups.  The first person to read the 6 digit number the stack makes, wins.  To get all participating and keep the motivation going, you can give the first person 2 points, and everyone else in the group that reads their number correctly 1 point.  Or, you can simply make this a math station without any points at all.  :)  Take a peek at this video to see how we play it.

3.  Math Stations - Dice, cards, dominos ... all of these manipulatives are great for building numbers to have students work with place value.  I have a fun package of math station sheets for place value that use dice - whole numbers and decimals are included (US and Canadian versions are both included in the resource).  With this Rolling Place Value resource, students will be working with standard, written, and expanded form of numbers.
To use less paper, I bought these great dry-erase pockets at Amazon.  LOVE them.  Just slide the sheet inside, and let the students work.  I'll include an affiliate link to Amazon at the bottom of this post.  If you want to take a peek at this Rolling Place Value Resource, click HERE.

I also have a similar resource for rounding - including numbers from millions to thousandths on individual sheets so you can easily differentiate for your students.  Students will also compare and order the numbers they made.  To see this Rolling with Rounding Resource, click HERE.  Each of these two "rolling" resources include an extra page that students can complete and hand in for a formative assessment.
4.  Place Value Scavenger Hunt - I've got a fun little freebie to share with you.  This Place Value Scavenger Hunt has students hunting for numbers - around the school, in a newspaper or magazine, online ... wherever you choose to have your students look.  I'm planning on having my students work in groups, giving each group an iPad.  When they find one of the numbers on their scavenger hunt, they can take a picture of it on the iPad.  At the end of the activity, they will go through their gallery, showing the 15 pictures.  To grab a free copy for your classroom, just click HERE.

5.  Place Value Math Circle - This Place Value math circle is always a hit in my classroom because it gets us up and moving, and really exploring numbers.  It is especially beneficial for the kinesthetic learners in the classroom.  This math circle is similar to my drama circles in that everyone gets a card with a direction to follow.  Each student is given a digit from 0-9, there is a decimal for someone to wear as well.  Once everyone is wearing their digit, the first person reads the instruction on the card and builds the number using people in the class.  For example, in the picture below, the card said, "Use 5 people to build a number with a 2 in the ten thousands place, 4 in the thousands place, 9 in the hundreds place, 6 in the tens place, and 3 in the ones place.  Read the number aloud."  I have both a US version and a Canadian version available.

Quick Tips for Back To School - One Little Word Themes

Are you looking for some quick tips for back to school?  I've got just about 2 weeks to go before we start, so this is definitely where my head is right now.  And I'm starting with getting my room set up.  And that all starts with a theme.

Apart from trying to have cohesive colors in my room, I wouldn't say I have a decorating "theme" for my classroom.  I do love having a nicely set up classroom, and I do love the cute classroom themes I see all over pinterest and facebook, but a full out theme is not something I thought I could pull off - decorating-wise or time-wise.  But ... does a classroom theme need to be a decorating style?  Does it need to be time consuming and costly?  In one little word, NO.

My quick tip is one that worked very well for my class last year.  Classroom themes can be easy.  Classroom themes can be one simple but powerful word.  I wanted our theme to be more than a decorating style.  I wanted it to mean something.  So instead, I took my "theme" from the one little word I thought was most important for us to have a successful year, and such an important life skill for the future - my classroom theme was (and will be again this year) "collaborate".

"One Little Word" classroom themes can be taken from anywhere.  They can be from a novel you are starting with (if reading Wonder at the beginning of the year, "Choose Kind" would be a fabulous classroom theme), they can be a character trait you want your students to display, or a verb meant to motivate like Think, Encourage, Lead, Persevere, etc., or a growth mindset word or phrase you want to keep reminding your students of.  It just has to be something you remind your students of daily, and keep reflecting on throughout the year.

For me, collaborate is what I wanted my students to start right from day one.  It was something I knew was necessary for all of us to have a successful year.  So, we got started right away.  I had each student trace their hand and arm, and decorate the inside with the names, and other words and pictures that were important to them.  Then, we posted our hands reaching up to our goal - and used my big bulletin board letters to spell out COLLABORATE.  This was placed over our main board, so it was in front of us every day, all year long.  A great reminder throughout the year as I knew I'd be having them working together and learning from each other every single day.

As soon as that was done, we talked about what the word means, and how we collaborate in the classroom - not just student to student, but student to teacher as well.  After a great brainstorm session, we tried it out with our first Stick-It-Together Collaborate Activity - one for back to school.  It was a great way to start to get to know one each other, start thinking about what our year was going to be like, start working on our goals, and most of all, start to COLLABORATE.

I can't wait to share pics from my classroom set-up this year - full of reminders to collaborate, space to collaborate in, and resources to collaborate with.  The two-week countdown is on!

Check out some more ideas below from some of my fabulous blogging friends, and get ready to grab some inspiration to make this the Best.Year.Ever!