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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Place Value Games in Math

"2 or 20?" asks the teacher? "Twenty, twenty...twenty," whispered the students on team B. Students in the class of a second grade teacher were totally engaged playing a math game (seen in the second part of the video below). As a way to get my students thinking about "Place Value", I decided to try this with my class at the beginning of school . So we played "101 and Out" with the whole class a couple of times. Getting the hang of it quickly, the students were able to play against a partner. Here is the video from Teaching Channel if you'd like to see how it works:

At first I thought the game might be too baby-ish for fourth graders. It was just right to start the year. Soon they will play a variation called "1001 and Out". Just changing the rules a bit to suit the higher place value needs.

"High Number Toss" was the next game we played to help students with reading, writing and comparing larger numbers (into the millions). (This is an EVERYDAY Mathematics game.) It is a bit more complicated as it requires students to correctly insert commas to help them identify the numbers.

The students loved this game because they wanted to see who could create the largest number. I loved this game because it afforded me the opportunity for formative assessment. This game also has a DECIMAL version.

Finally, Who doesn't love a good Jeopardy Game? I know my students have always loved playing (especially when I take out some teacher bells for them to 'ring' in). This online version from Super Teacher Tools is a great for "Place Value Review". You can play with up to 10 Teams (or just one). Click on the picture below to play the game.

Introducing a few new games at a time is a great way to keep students engaged and learning. Please feel free to share any place value games that work in your classroom!


  1. Nice UDL start to your year. Love it!

  2. Lorry,
    I love that you noticed! I miss our collaboration when it comes to incorporating the Universal Design for Learning principles.

    Would love it if you would post as a guest!

  3. Hi Nancy. Interesting! Seems like a fun and easy way to learn. I would imagine that it holds the kids interest. You teachers are terrific!!!

    1. Thank you Carol Ann. Lots of times the games provide deeper meaning to a concept which is our hope (while they're having fun at the same time!).

  4. Thank you so much for this post! I'm so happy to learn about Teacher Channel. Even though my state hasn't adopted Common Core, the lessons and videos look very helpful. I just blogged a week or so ago about the importance of math games too!

    1. I just recently discovered Teacher Channel too. I think the videos I have seen have been very helpful. Left a comment for you on your post. Math games are a must in any math class! Thanks for commenting.

  5. Hi Nancy,

    Teaching number sense and place value through games was one of my favorite centers to set up. One game I used was having a chart that had the place value on each side, one for each partner, and a comparison in the middle (for greater than, less than, or equal to). The students would partner up, and roll the dice (I liked the 10 sided dice). The objective was to create the highest number. So, each student would roll and place that number anywhere on her/his side (great formative assessment to see if they understood that the higher the number should go in the higher place value). The partners would go back and forth on this until all the boxes were filled in. Once all the boxes were filled in, each player would take a turn reading the number sentence (for example, three thousand, three is less than nine thousand, six hundred forty-five). Each player could earn a point by reading it correctly (another formative assessment). -- I've created these going all the way up to the millions place, and have done the same with decimals. I'd model how to play the game first with another student in class. I'd model what to do if I said the number sentence incorrectly, and how my partner could help me. Then, as they played, I'd walk around with a check list checking off those who mastered the greater than/less than strategy, and another box for mastering reading the numbers. If they mastered those concepts, I knew they were ready for expanded form and word form. If they didn't, I worked with those students, gave them some strategies, tried it in different ways, until they mastered it.

    Thanks for your post! You have some fun ideas here!

    Kind regards,

    1. Hi Tracy,
      Thanks for sharing another great game. I like that it can be adapted for any grade level and includes the ever elusive, decimals! Using 10 sided dice makes it even more exciting. It becomes somewhat predictable for kids when using the regular dice. This adds another level of excitement to the game. Keeping and using games like this in our centers provides great review whenever needed throughout the year.

      Thank you Tracy for taking the time to share & comment. I always appreciate your input.


  6. These types of math games helps in improving IQ also. Really interesting.

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