How to Introduce Place Value in 1st Grade


1st-grade students get the first real taste of place value. In kindergarten, your students may have learned to rotely count to 100 and they may have had experiences with teen numbers as ten ones and some more ones, but here in 1st grade you are introducing the idea that the place a digit is in in a number is important.

Place Value Activity #1

Give your students a hundred chart and ask them to write the numbers from 1-100. When your students have completed the activity, ask them to highlight the decade numbers.

This activity lends so much more meaning to the counting by 10s count sequence because your students will see that the decade numbers keep track of the number of tens.

To extend the activity, ask your students to cut their hundred chart in strips to create "ten strips".

Your students can reuse the activity by putting their strips back together to once again create a hundred chart.




Place Value Activity #2

Have a variety of cards each delineating a number of tens or ones. The peanut butter and jelly cards pictured here are a part of this unit

Your students will grab a tens card and a ones card and will build the number of tens and ones using linking cubes. 

**Linking cubes are a fantastic concrete tool for introducing place value because your students can physically see that a ten is made from ten ones. 

Ask your students to record the number of tens and ones on a place value chart and then to count by tens and ones to find the resulting number. 



Place Value Activity #3

Another concrete groupable model, stirring straws can be physically bundled together in groups of ten making them an excellent tool for 1st-grade students who are learning about place value for the first time! 

In this activity, provide your students with a 2-digit number and ask them to create that number using bundles of ten straws and individual straws. 

Ask your students to record both a place value drawing and the number of tens and ones in their number on a place value chart. 

By asking your students to use place value drawings and place value charts, you are planting the seeds they will need to move from concrete, hands-on tools to representational models. 

Place Value Activity #4

Once your students are consistently comfortable with concrete manipulatives, it's time to start peeling them away. 

In this simple activity, students use number cards only from a deck and choose two cards. They then arrange those cards on a place value chart. Students will then draw a place value drawing and will determine the number that matches the number of tens and ones in the place value chart. 







My Gift To You

Print this cheat sheet & keep it handy while you are planning your place value lessons! 

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