Fundamental Place Value

Image by:  D. Castillo

After analyzing a recent math assessment, I asked a group of middle school teachers in another state what particular math topic they would recommend elementary teachers strengthen.  I thought that the middle school teachers could offer valuable input regarding how the elementary schools are preparing students for middle school. After a quick discussion, each middle school teacher (all five of them) decided that place value is a fundamental concept that precedes many other high-level math concepts. After listening to the discussion, I started to think of when place value is actually taught.  According to the math Common Core, an entire math strand is dedicated to place value / base 10 concepts.  In fact the word place value is found 42 times in the Common Core Standards for Mathematics.  Obviously, place value is important, but how do teachers introduce and expand on the topic?  First of all, teachers can use visuals,such as a place value chart.

Ideas and links regarding teaching place value can be found below.

  • Place value can start before first grade – counting and identifying specific values
  • Students can be given the opportunity to utilize base-ten blocks and explore how the pieces are interchangeable
  • Place value can be viewed as a decimal or fraction
  • Use coins to show another way to view place value
  • Tactual place value activities
  • Online games or activities
  • Use a number line to show how place value plays a role in how large or small numbers become.
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