Place Value Game

Mar 17, 2015

I explained earlier this week that after much foundational work, we started to officially, explicitly, directly teach place value.  It all started with some candy.  We quickly moved on but wanted to still make the lessons meaningful to them since place value can seem so abstract to our firsties.

Jess and I handed each kid a cup filled with black beans.  We told them that we needed them to count the beans out to determine how many we had for a special game we wanted to play.  As they had learned in the prior lesson, the best way to probably count the massive amount of beans was to group them by tens.  We asked them to glue the beans down on Popsicle sticks to make ten sticks.

 They were so excited to glue these little beans onto sticks.  Plus it made it much easier for them to count their groups of ten and loose ones.  And as a Friday activity, the sticks had the weekend to dry.

When our firsties came back on Monday, we explained that we wanted to use their bean-ten sticks as a manipulative for a place value game.  Yep...they were beyond excited to use the materials that THEY had made!

Each group got a bag of numbers cards, bean-ten sticks, loose beans, and two tiles.  One tile said "10 more" and one said "10 less".  Students were asked to pull a number card.  Build the number with the manipulatives.

Then pull out a tile and either add ten or subtract a ten.

It turned out to be a pretty effective game (minus the fact that some beans fell off the stick). We were able to observe the students that had difficulty building a number or adding/subtracting from that number.  Then we pulled those students over and worked with them one on one.

Is every student on board with the +10 and -10, yet?  Nope.  But we are getting there and we will keep working at it!


  1. Oh my goodness - genius idea! I love seeing what you guys come up with! You're me heroes! :)
    Karen Rowland

    Adventures With Firsties

  2. The bean stick are genius! Did you have the kids put a line of wet glue and then lay down the beans? My students are struggling with place value. I might go back and do this activity. I love the idea of them building their own maniputative.

  3. Way to employ "make your own game"! I know my kiddos would love anything they had a hand in making. Glad it was a success :)



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