7 Ways to Make Place Value Work for You!

Every year we begin math with place value, and every year I just know that my students are going to rock it. BUT every year I am left feeling like I need to do more to keep place value going throughout the year. Don't get me wrong, my students rock the unit on place value, but then it seems to fall right out of their brains to make room for new information. 

That means that about this time of year I am pushing review of place value heavily, and thought that others may be doing the same. So, here are 7 ways that I review and practice place value to ensure that my students are place value experts by the time we are ready for state testing. 

1.  An Anchor Chart

I know you made one at the beginning of the year, so break that baby out, or if you are like me and it is looking a little ragged it is time to make a new one!

2. Place Value Charts

I love to have my students keep laminated place value charts in their desk. We pull them out whenever we have a few minutes and practice writing numbers in various forms. At the very beginning of the year I use a sticky note to cover any place values that we have note become familiar with yet, but now we are ready to use them all.

3. Paper Plate Place Value

Using paper plates, or just paper, write a digit on each plate. Students can then use the plates in their groups to complete a series of tasks such as:
  • make the biggest number possible
  • make the smallest number possible
  • make a number with a 6 in the thousands place
  • anything else you can think of!

4. Study Jams!

Study Jams from Scholastic is a great resource for short videos that review concepts, or to use as an anticipatory set for a lesson. My students LOVE Study Jams and get really excited when we turn it on! For place value I would recommend the videos, "Place Value," and "Place Value of Decimals."

 5. Apps

There are tons of apps out there for math, but a lot of them are very game like, and while engaging, don't always tell you what your student knows about a concept. The FREE app Number Pieces by Math Learning Center is amazing for just that reason. You can use the app online or on a device which gives it extra bang for your buck, (except that it is free!) The app is basically base ten pieces integrated into technology. There is also a drawing tool that will allow your students to write across their pieces as well. 

6. Literature

Incorporate some children's literature into your math block. My favorites while talking about place value are How Much is a Million by David M. Schwartz and Earth Day Hooray! by Stewart J. Murphy. Both of these books integrate math concepts into a story that will be sure to keep your kiddos engaged! 

7. Practice Practice Practice

Like any other thing, practice makes perfect! Students need to practice their skills in a variety of ways in order to ensure that they hold onto their newly attained knowledge. In order to make practice, and test prep for that matter, more engaging I use this set of ten activities. 
The Big Ten: Place Value set can be used as stations, in small groups, for partner activities, or as assessment. Each of the activities comes entirely in black and white, so that you don't have to worry about expensive colored ink. 
My students' favorite activities included are the QR Codes place value activity, and the dice place value practice!
I hope that you have found some ideas for making place value experts in your classroom!


  1. Hello, Alyssa. I am new to fourth grade (moved from first grade). I really like your post and plan on using your products when I teach place value. Can you tell me where you got your place value chart? I really like how simple and readable it is. Thank you!

  2. Hi Linsay,
    I created it in PowerPoint using a table. It is nothing fancy, but I would be happy to send you a copy of what I have. If you re interest, please email me at teachinginthefastlane@gmail.com.

    1. Thank you so much. . .sent you an email.


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