30 Smart Place Value Activities for Elementary Math Students

Place value is one of those basic concepts that help kids build a wide variety of math skills. There are lots of fun place value activities you can use to help them understand, whether you’re working with basic tens and ones or have advanced to decimals with tenths and hundredths. Here’s a terrific collection of ideas to add to your upcoming lesson plans!

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1. Start with an anchor chart

Chart in the shape of a robot showing standard form, base 10 form, expanded form, and word form (Place Value Activities)

Help students understand and remember four ways to represent numbers and place value with an anchor chart. Turning the chart into a robot ups the fun factor!

Learn more: TeachingWithHeartinMind / Instagram

2. Read a book about place value

Collage of book covers about place value

We’re not talking about the paragraph in their math workbook that explains the concept. We mean one of these engaging and entertaining place value books that capture kids’ imagination while helping them understand how place value works and why it matters. There are plenty of options out there—here are a few of our favorites.

3. Turn paint samples into place value sliders

Colorful paint sample chips with individual sections labeled tens and ones, with number strips inserted (Place Value Activities)

Use the cutouts in paint sample chips as little “windows” for numbers. This is a fun and colorful way to introduce place value to your students.

Learn more: The Brown Bag Teacher

4. Show it four ways

Orange worksheet with the number 39 represented as numerals, tens and ones, place value blocks, and 30+9

Ask students to demonstrate their understanding of place value by showing one number in a variety of ways. Get a free printable worksheet for this activity at the link.

Learn more: A Kinderteacher Life

5. Transform a pillbox into a place value manipulative

Teacher's hands holding a divided pill container with 9-sided dice in each compartment, next to sheets of printable place value labels

Stop by the dollar store for some weekly pillbox containers, then use our free printable labels to turn them into dice shakers you can use for all kinds of place value activities.

6. Stack place value Cheerio towers

Uncooked spaghetti strands stuck upright into playdough and labeled H, T, and O with Cheerios stacked on each next to card reading 570

Looking for more inexpensive math class ideas? Grab a box of uncooked spaghetti and some Cheerios to use for your place value activities!

Learn more: Mrs. J’s Resource Creations

7. Visualize place value with a foldable

Sentence strip folded to show the number 7930 and unfolded to show place values (Place Value Activities)

Use sentence strips and dry-erase tape to create a reusable math manipulative that reinforces place value concepts and expanded form.

Learn more: Teacher Thrive / Teaching Place Value

8. Slide cards into binder pages

Clear pocket pages in a binder with place value headings and numbers

Use divided binder pages along with number and base 10 cards to show place value. Call out each digit and its place (“There’s a 3 in the thousands place”) and see if your students can make the correct number.

Learn more: Tunstall’s Teaching Tidbits

9. Construct a tower of base 10 blocks

Base 10 blocks stacked into towers and other structures (Place Value Activities)

Base 10 blocks are a popular math manipulative, and they’re perfect for teaching place value. This activity challenges kids to use the blocks to find three different ways to build a structure representing 1,000. New to base 10 blocks? Here’s a good starter set from Amazon to try.

Learn more: Asheigh’s Education Journey

10. Figure out the place value of your name

Base 10 blocks used to spell the name Abigail, with sticky notes indicating the place value of several student names (Place Value Activities)

Here’s another clever use for base 10 blocks. First, have each student use them to spell out their name. Then, count up the numbers of tens and ones blocks to determine your name’s place value!

Learn more: Differentiation Station Creations

11. Stack paper cups

Stacked paper cups, with number written on rim of each (Place Value Activities)

While you’re at the dollar store, pick up some stackable paper cups. Number them 1 to 9 along the edge, and then use them to talk about place value as you stack them to create different numbers.

Learn more: The Imagination Tree

12. Build place value bugs

Cute bug made from one large pom pom and a series of smaller ones, with cards saying tens, ones, and 15 (Place Value Activities)

How cute is this little number bug? Use large pom-poms for tens and smaller ones for ones, then set them on a wood craft stick to create a number.

Learn more: Planning Playtime

13. Shoot for the target with LEGO bricks

Target with rings marked 1000, 100, 10, and 1, with LEGO bricks on each ring

LEGO bricks really are ideal for place value activities. Toss the bricks onto a homemade target with rings to represents ones, tens, and so on. Count the studs of each brick that lands on a place value ring, then add them up to get your final number. (See more LEGO math ideas here.)

14. Build understanding with LEGO bricks

LEGO DUPLO bricks with numbers written on the sides under each peg (Place Value Activities)

You know your students love to build with LEGO, so use them to reinforce place value concepts too. Hands-on place value activities are always the most fun!

Learn more: Teach Me Mommy

15. Act out multiplying and dividing

Diagrams showing students shifting places as they multiply and divide decimals by ten

Active math games are one of the best ways we know to get kids involved in their learning. Find out how to act out multiplying or dividing by powers of ten at the link below.

Learn more: Teacher Thrive / Powers of Ten

16. Play a game of Place Value War

Student's hand laying out UNO cards in three rows

Play this game with Uno cards or a classic deck with face cards removed. Each player has a number of piles (depending on which place values you’re working on) and lays down the top card from each. The players say the resulting numbers out loud (e.g. “five hundred thirty”), and the player with the highest number wins. For a fun variation, allow players to use the cards they flip to create the highest possible number.

Learn more: Childhood 101

17. Build a number

Worksheet with the digits 3703 at the top, and instructions to build the largest number, build the smallest number, etc. (Place Value Activities)

Kids select some number cards, then try to meet a series of challenges like making the largest number they can. Add in a decimal card to up the complexity of the game.

Learn more: Mathwire.com

18. Keep track of school days in a pocket chart

Pocket chart with columns labeled hundreds, tens, and ones, with ten frames in each pocket

Each day, count how many days students have been in school this year by adding counters like 10-frames to a pocket chart. The number climbs as the year goes on, building from ones to tens to hundreds.

Learn more: Jillian Starr Teaching

19. Send them on a scavenger hunt

Worksheet labeled Place Value Scavenger Hunt with categories like 0 in the ones place and 2 in the tens place

Grab a stack of old magazines and newspapers and let kids loose to find examples of the place value challenges set in this scavenger hunt. Hit the link below to get the free printable.

Learn more: Primary Theme Park

20. Shake things up with Yahtzee

Place Value Yatzhee score cards with title Who wins the game?

Roll out the dice and try to beat your opponent as you fulfill the conditions of this special game of Yahtzee. Print the free game boards and get the rules at the link below. (Find more creative ways to use dice in your classroom here.)

Learn more: Games 4 Gains

21. Enjoy a game of Whack It!

4-rectangle tape grid with number cards in each space, with child hitting one with a fly swatter (Place Value Activities)

What kid doesn’t love to whack things with a fly swatter? Put that energy to good use by having them slap the swatter down on the correct values as you call them out.

Learn more: Creekside Learning

22. Take a journey on the Place Value Path

Printable board game labeled The Place Value Path with dice and yellow bingo dauber

This free printable game combines a traditional board game with bingo. Roll the dice to see which outer square you land on. Count up the number represented by the base-10 symbols, and mark it on your bingo board. When you get five in a row, you win!

Learn more: The Measured Mom / Place Value Games

23. Toss beanbags into place value bins

Series of plastic bins labeled tens, ones, hundreds, and thousands with bean bags in each

Combine hand-eye coordination practice with math skills in this place value game. Label bins for tens, hundreds, etc., and choose a number. Kids toss numbered bean bags into the correct bins to win!

Learn more: Saddle Up for 2nd Grade

24. Snack and learn with rainbow math

Worksheet with rainbow and clouds on each end, labeled ones and tens, with pipe cleaner strung with Froot Loops and handful of loose cereal

Use Froot Loops cereal pieces and pipe cleaners to learn tens and ones with this free printable activity. Don’t want to use cereal? Try beads instead.

Learn more: School Time Snippets

25. Use nuts and bolts to learn place value

Worksheet called Building Numbers with spaces for tens and ones, with nuts and bolts representing the number 57

Looking for inexpensive ways to represent base 10? Try nuts and bolts! You can pick them up in bulk at the hardware store, and it’s easy to replace them if they get lost.

Learn more: The Measured Mom / Nuts and Bolts

26. Make giant DIY ones and tens blocks

Kindergarten students holding large paper base ten blocks to represent the number 44 (Place Value Activities)

Cut squares of bright-colored card stock for ones, and tape together a series of them to create the tens. Then add smiley faces to the top just for fun, and have kids hold up the giant blocks to represent various numbers.

Learn more: The Kindergarten Smorgasboard / Giant Blocks

27. Cut a pool noodle into tens and ones

Blue and green pool noodles cut into long and short pieces, with card saying 64 (Place Value Activities)

The nice thing about these DIY manipulatives is that they’re easy for little hands to handle. Cut pool noodles to represent tens and ones to give kids practice building numbers.

Learn more: The Kindergarten Smorgasboard / Pool Noodle DIY

28. Solve a place value puzzle

Place Value Puzzle worksheet with a series of clues

Place value activities are still important for older kids. This advanced activity asks them to solve math word problems and write the solutions into the correct place on the grid. Get the free printable at the link below.

Learn more: Education.com

29. Complete a place value maze

Adding 10,000 maze worksheet, available from Math Geek Mama

This advanced place value activity gives students practice adding hundreds, thousands, and higher. They find the next correct answer in the maze as they go along. Visit the link for these free printable mazes.

Learn more: Math Geek Mama

30. Walk along giant number lines

Young student moving colorful paper plates along number lines made from blue painter's tape on the floor

We love place value activities that also get kids up and moving! For this one, use masking tape to create number lines for ones, tens, hundreds, etc., on the floor. Choose a number and use paper plates to mark the correct places on the number lines, or have kids stand on the correct mark instead.

Learn more: Hands On as We Grow

Looking for even more math fun? Try these fun and free fraction games!

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