Lesson plan

Let’s Compare! Place Value Disks & Three-Digit Numbers

Dive into understanding place value by using place value disks to represent and compare numbers.
Need extra help for EL students? Try the Comparing Values pre-lesson.
EL Adjustments
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Need extra help for EL students? Try the Comparing Values pre-lesson.

Students will be able to use their understanding of place value to compare numbers.

The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
EL adjustments
(10 minutes)
  • Write the number 134 on the board. Ask, “What number is this? How do you know?”
  • Show students how 134 means one hundred, three tens, and four ones.
  • Bring out place value disks and show how to represent 134 with the disks.
(5 minutes)
  • Demonstrate how to show two different three-digit numbers with place value disks.
  • Show how to compare the numbers by looking at how many hundreds, tens, and ones they have.
(10 minutes)
  • Give students place value disks and have them each show how to make the number 251.
(20 minutes)
  • Have students work in pairs. Each partner will make a three-digit number using place value disks.
  • When the numbers have been represented with the disks, each student will identify the number their partner made. The students will then work to determine which of the numbers is larger.
  • As students work together, they should record each number that they made and circle the larger number. This game can be repeated as many times as possible.


  • Provide students with mats to clearly separate hundreds, tens, and ones.
  • Give students who need extra help specific numbers to make.


  • Challenge students to make multiple numbers and order them from smallest to largest.
(5 minutes)
  • Have each group share one of the number pairs they made and explain how they figured out which number was bigger.
(2 minutes)
  • Write 135 ____ 100 on the whiteboard.
  • Ask the students to turn and talk to a partner, sharing which number is greater than the other number and why.
  • Remind students that place value is important when we figure out if a number is greater than, equal to, or less than another number.

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