Using a Place Value Chart in the Classroom

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  • 0:03 Place Value Charts
  • 0:54 Identifying Numbers
  • 1:57 Skip Counting &…
  • 4:12 Comparing & Ordering…
  • 5:07 Converting Forms &…
  • 7:20 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Matthew Bergstresser

Matthew has a Master of Arts degree in Physics Education

Learning how our decimal number system works is the beginning of building a solid mathematical base of knowledge, and the place value chart is a powerful tool for teaching students about our number system. In this lesson, we will discuss how to use the place value chart for a variety of activities.

Place Value Chart

Road maps lead us from one place to another and give us an overall idea of how to travel around an area. Similarly, the place value chart (PVC) directs us around our base 10 number system. Diagram 1 shows a place value chart appropriate for students working with whole numbers:

Diagram 1

This chart is a good starting point for teaching about numbers. The PVC and variations of it can be used for:

  • Identifying numbers
  • Skip counting
  • Rounding numbers
  • Comparing and ordering a set of numbers
  • Converting between word, standard, and expanded number forms
  • Turning decimal numbers to fractions and vice versa

Let's get down to business discussing how all of these skills can be taught using the PVC.

Identifying Numbers

Numbers, particularly of larger value, can be confusing to some students. This is where the PVC comes in. We can teach students to take any number and identify the place and value of any of its digits. It's important students understand place is the location of the digit in the number and value is how much the digit is worth: the place of the digit determines its value. For example, the number 2,394,108 can written under the PVC so students can see the connection between the different place values of the digits. Diagram 2 shows this example:

Diagram 2

Point out the 8 is the in the ones' place and so forth. Students can make up numbers, and the class can determine the place value for each digit. Inserting identical digits into two different places reinforces the importance of the place value system, and reading these numbers out loud helps reinforce number identification.

Skip Counting & Rounding Numbers

Skip counting is when we count by twos, fours, or any other value. For example, skip counting by twos would be 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and so on. Another helpful number chart is the hundreds chart, which is very useful for skip counting. Diagram 3 shows a hundreds chart:

Diagram 3

Explain to the students this chart contains numbers with digits in the ones' place, the tens' place, and in the last box even the hundreds' place. A good way to introduce the students to skip counting is to tape a hundreds chart on the floor and have the students skip squares while walking along them and counting.

When using the smaller hundreds charts, have the students try skip counting by various values. Each number they land on will be in specific columns, and skip-counting patterns will form. Give the students dry erase markers and have them box in the values as they skip count. Diagram 4 shows skip counting by twos from 2 to 14.

Diagram 4

Skip-counting practice with all of the first ten numbers, forwards and backwards, will help the students later as they need to recall multiplication facts.

The PVC is useful when teaching students rounding. Do several examples of rounding a number to a specific place. Have students first underline the place to where they will round. Tell them to box in the digit to the right of the underlined digit; if the boxed digit is 5 or higher, the underlined number must be increased by one. Act excited about the last step, where they get to change the digit in the box, and then change the rest of the digits to the right to zeros! Diagram 5 shows an example of rounding to the hundred thousands' place:

Diagram 5

Since the boxed-in value is greater than 5, the underlined value to the left is bumped up one, resulting in 2,394,108 having a rounded value to the hundred thousands' place of 2,400,000. Rounding the same number to the ten thousands' place would result in a rounded value of 2,390,000, because the digit to the right of the 9 is less than 5.

Comparing & Ordering Sets of Numbers

The multi-use PVC can be used effectively to compare number values. Students write two different numbers under the place value chart and compare the digits starting with the farthest left column containing a digit. If one number fills up more places, it automatically is the larger of the two. If both numbers have the same length, or highest place value, students compare the digits in each column from left to right. Once they arrive at a place where one digit has the larger value, then that number also has the larger value, and is the ''winner.''.

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