Play Cards for Place Value Activity

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Updated on Oct 30, 2014

Is your child struggling to remember the rules of place value? If the ones, tens, hundreds, and thousands place doesn't ring a bell, it might be time for a little review. Here's a fun series of hands-on activities to help your child put the value in place value!

What You Need:

  • 2 sets of number cards, made by writing the numbers 1–9 on the blank sides of index cards, one number per card

What You Do:

  1. Hand the number cards to your child. Starting with just a two-digit number, announce a number and ask your child to make the number with the cards, then say the number aloud. (For example, if you announced "fifty-one", he'd take out a card with the number five and another with the number one.)  Then, have your child tell you what number is in each place and the value of that number (For example, if the number is 75, there is a 7 in the tens place and the value of that number is 7 tens or 70). Keep dictating numbers, but each time increase the number of digits. Start with a two-digit number, increase it to a three-digit number, and so on, until you get to the millions place. For each round of the game, be sure to ask your child to say the number aloud after she makes it with the number cards. Once she's gotten a bunch of practice, turn the tables. Have her dictate number to you!
  2. Tell your child to make the largest and the smallest two-digit, three-digit, four-digit, five-digit, six-digit and seven-digit number she can.
  3. Dictate a number. Have your child set up the cards to show that number. Then, tell your child to increase or decrease the number by different values. For example, if you dictate the number 2,345, ask her to increase the number by 1,000. She should replace the 2 with a 3, making the new number 3,345. Reverse roles with your child.
  4. Come up with a place value riddle for your child to figure out. Give her clues to help her guess the number you have in mind. For example: “I am a four-digit number. I have a 2 in my hundreds place, no value in my tens place, and an 8 in my ones place. If the sum of my number’s digits is 17, what’s my number? (answer: 7,208) Now, have your child write or dictate her own place value riddle for you to figure out!
Vanessa Genova DeSantis has been teaching for fourteen years in public and private school settings in grades 4-8. She's also an educational freelance writer as well as a private tutor for elementary, middle and high school students.

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