Place Value Games for 4th Grade

Instructor: David Wood

David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.

Learning place value is a vital step in mathematical fluency. Help keep your fourth graders engaged as they learn, by trying a few of these place value games.

4th Grade Place Value Games

Place value is an important concept for fourth graders to learn. As they start to look at more complex numbers like decimals, understanding place value will be vital to their progress. That progress will be much greater if they're engaged while they're learning. One way to maintain engagement is by using fun math games as part of their learning. So check out a few of these math games which help students learn about place value.

Number Building

The number building game involves giving your students a set of four or five index cards, each containing a digit from zero to nine. You may also give them a decimal point card if they've learned about decimals. You then give students a series of challenges, such as 'Create the largest number you can.' Have them put the digit cards into order, and write down their answers to each challenge. Here are some examples of challenges you could include:

  • Make the largest number possible
  • Make the smallest number possible
  • Make a number that is larger than 200
  • Make a number that is smaller than 50
  • Make a number that is between 100 and 200

Depending on which digits each student drew, some of these challenges will be possible, and some may be impossible. Give students a point for each challenge they successfully complete, and a point for identifying if the challenge isn't possible. After several rounds (with different sets of digits) the student (or group) with the most points wins.

Base Ten Build Up

This game involves creating as large a number as possible. It requires base ten blocks, or similar equipment: something that has objects to represent 1s, 10s, 100s, and maybe even 1000s. As a backup, you could use money if such blocks are not available. If you play with money, it's best to only use pennies, dimes, and dollars. One dime would represent 10, and one dollar would represent 100. But base ten blocks are definitely best if you have them.

To play this game, have students roll a set of dice (two usually works best), and receive the number of blocks shown on the dice. Students must trade up for larger blocks (10s, 100s, and finally 1000s) as soon as they're able. For example, if a student has 4 single blocks from their first round, and then they roll a 4 and a 5, they will now have a total of 13 blocks. This is greater than 10, so they would have to trade 10 of these single blocks (ones) for a 10 block (a strip).

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