Place Value Games for Kids

Instructor: Jennifer Lowery

Jennifer has taught elementary levels K-3 and has master's degrees in elementary education and curriculum/instruction and educational leadership.

Digits have a certain value depending on what place they are in a number. Learn how to play games to practice understanding the value of each place in 2, 3 and 4 digit numbers!

What Is Place Value?

Which is more valuable, a rare baseball card or a piece of notebook paper? The value of an object is what the object is worth. The rare baseball card has a lot of value to baseball fans and card collectors! But a piece of paper is not special, so it does not have as much value. There are different values in math just like the baseball card and piece of paper have different values.

Digits are 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9. We can arrange these digits to create numbers that are one digit, two digits, three digits, or more. When there is more than one digit in a number, the places have different values.

The digit in the ones place, which is on the far right, means singles. Moving to the left, the next place is the tens place. You can count by tens to find the value. Continuing to the left, the next place represents hundreds, and you can count by hundreds to find the value. The next place is the thousands place. As you continue to move left, the places increase in value (just like the baseball card is worth more than an ordinary piece of paper).

Now let's have some fun! Playing games can be an interesting way to practice and understand place value!

Build a Number Game

You'll need four dice for this game. The goal at the beginning is to build a number using all four dice so that you create a four digit number with the highest value. Roll all four dice at once, then arrange the dice in order so that you have the smallest digit in the ones place. The next smallest digit should go in the tens place. The next smallest digit should be in the hundreds place, and finally the largest digit should be in the thousands place.

You can change up the game by switching to building the number with the smallest possible value, or you can make this a competition with a partner to create the bigger or smaller four digit number.

Risky Spinner Game

For this game, find a spinner with the digits 0 through 9. To begin the game, make a chart on a piece of paper that has labels for thousands, hundreds, tens, and ones. The goal of the game is to make a number with the largest value using digits that you spin. Start by spinning once, and think hard about which place you will write the digit on the spinner. Once you write the digit, you cannot erase it! (This is what makes the game risky and fun!)

Small digits should be placed in the ones or tens place, and large digits should go in the thousands or hundreds. Spin again, and put the second digit where you think it should go. Keep in mind you cannot put it in the same place as the first digit. Keep doing this until you have placed four digits.

Have you made the biggest possible number, or did you take a risk that did not pay off? Once you get the hang of this game, you can challenge yourself to create the number with the smallest value. You can also create larger numbers by going to the ten-thousands, hundred-thousands, and millions.

Lesson Summary

When we see a number that has more than one digit, remember that those digits have a specific value depending on where they are located. Some are more valuable than others: they can have a value in the thousands, hundreds, tens, or singles. Now find a partner or a group of friends and build your knowledge with these two fun place value games!

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