Units, tens, hundreds, thousands? In maths, every number has a place value.
Written by Melissa Fanshawe
Sep. 27. 2023
In this second video, Melissa Fanshawe presents an exercise to help students write numbers and understand place value. See how to organise the baseplate for this activity.
The activity that I'd like to show you next
is an activity to do with place value.
Place value is incredibly important because it helps students to understand
why we can only go up to nine in each house
and to how our whole number system works.
Because we start with the pattern of ones,
tens, and hundreds in the units,
and then ones, tens, and hundreds in our thousands,
and ones, tens, and hundreds in our millions,
and we actually go up and go up
and we also have that underneath our units
where we actually have tenths and hundreds and thousands etc.
Now what I've done is, I've made a base plate using
units with ones, tens, and hundreds over here,
I've got thousands with ones, tens, and
hundreds, and I've got millions with ones, tens, and hundreds,
and the importance of that is to show
that pattern system for our students
and that they can actually manipulate and use
this Place Value board to put down numbers,
to pick up numbers, to work out where they're sitting
which helps them to understand which house they're in
and how to say their name.
Now underneath I have the double numbers and that's representing that anything coming after that is in the number system,
and at the bottom of my base plate I actually have
a pile of numbers that students can use
and in this activity we're not going to use those
but I have them there just in case
and I have seen on the LEGO Braille Bricks on the maths, there was some wonderful 3D place value systems that somebody had made,
which was great but you can also use Lego Technic and
Wiki sticks and those sorts of things
to break up your house values so that's really great.
Now I'm just going to move down to my base plate
and I'm going to show you a game that I play.
I want to show you this is because it's a game
that I play with grade sixes very commonly in a
classroom. What the students have to do is that
they have to actually roll the dice or take
out some numbers
and they have to make the biggest number
that they can in the place value system.
So I'm actually just going to remove my millions because
we don't need that for this activity.
The students have six numbers in a bowl
and what they're going to be doing is
they're going to actually try and put down
the biggest number that they can make
when these are random numbers.
So they're not going to know what they are
and what it means is that they have to have an understanding
that place value, the biggest number goes at the front
so thousands is bigger than ones
and so this would come after a lot of hands-on
manipulatives and working out using
manipulative tips to understand what
ones are, tens and hundreds,
but this is a game like I said that I play
in Upper to Middle primary so about grade six
and the students would be about 12 or 13 years.
So the first one I picked out is a 3
and I know 3 is a reasonably small number.
So I'm going to take a guess and put it around.
I'm going to make that 3 tenths which is 30
so that's the first one that I've actually put there.
Okay so the next one I've picked out is a 1
so I'm going to say that that is a small number
and I'm going to put it in my 1's house.
Now I do risk of course getting a 0
and 0 is an interesting discussion.
0 is one that you can put in at the beginning
or you can leave out until students are really confident.
But 0 is a placeholder and it means that there's nothing there.
So if I put it in the ones house, it's small
but if I put it in the thousands, if I put in hundred thousands,
it means my number is going to be significantly smaller
So it is something that you can decide to put in or you not.
This one is a number 4 so again
I'm going to put it in our hundreds house
and hope that I can get some bigger numbers.
Oh another 4! Ok well we'll put that in our
thousands of units and see how we go
and now I've got an 8 and I oh I'm gonna think
that that's a really big number
so I'm going to put that in my hundred thousands
and then lastly I have a 5
so I've now made the number 854 413
Yes! A bit difficult really
and upside down but anyway!
So I have actually made the biggest number that I possibly can
and now students can actually,
if they haven't they could rearrange it and see
what the biggest number is that they could have made.
You may have noticed that my board is on a stand and
this is just a little baseboard that I use. It's actually a tablet holder
an iPad holder that you can buy here in
Ikea but I find it really easy
it's a bit like a slope board for students
and makes it a little bit easier for them.
I could then rearrange this number and make a
smaller number, the smallest number I possibly can
or I could get another six numbers and
then I could work out
which one was bigger and which one was smaller
and use some comparison.
So that's just a little activity with place value
Melissa Fanshawe is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Southern Queensland, School of Education, where she teaches pre-service teachers how to teach mathematics to students in their classrooms. She is also a trained teacher of students with visual impairments.
She has started working on the meaning of maths concepts with the LEGO Braille bricks and has prepared several videos with different maths activities.