5 ideas for supporting place value

What to do about place value

Do not eliminate concrete supports too quickly

Some students need more time to explore the physical attributes of number before they are secure moving to paper and pencil tasks.

Coloured place-value counters, base-10s and other supports provide valuable reinforcement for number skills.

Give students a script to follow

Model and teach the language of place value, including solving problems for the basic operations.

This is how you might support the sum:

143 + 94 =

1. Read out the problem

2. Break it down. Say "143- made up of one hundred, four tens and three ones,... plus 94- made up of nine tens and four ones, equals How Many?"

Doing this can slow students down and ensure they pay attention to the whole problem (including the operation) prior to solving it.

Use visual supports to separating place value

Place value mats which separate base-10 blocks (Dienes) or counters keep each value together and help students develop understanding of number. When they finish counting a column, pause and "lock" that number so they know to begin counting different quantities.

Click on the image to download

"Draw out" numbers and use base-10s to support this

This helps students move away from concrete resources to paper and pencil maths. While this is a process and takes time, it provides valuable scaffolding and moves young people toward independence.

Check out this Drawing Out Numbers Guide.

Play games

Dice games, Snakes & Ladders, Maths Bingo (click here to download) can be helpful for reinforcing maths language, number and calculation skills that develop lifelong maths knowledge.

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