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How To Use Number Cards To Help Teach Place Value

For students to be able to read and write whole numbers greater than 100, they need to have an understanding of place value. Place value is the pattern in the…

For students to be able to read and write whole numbers greater than 100, they need to have an understanding of place value. Place value is the pattern in the way we put digits together, which helps us to read whole numbers into the thousands, millions, billions and beyond.

Number cards come in handy for looking at patterns in numbers, here are some of the ways you can use them with your students.

1. Grouping numbers

For this activity you will need to have a small piece of paper to give to each student.

  • Give each student a piece of paper. Ask them to write a number on the paper between 100 & 300.
  • Arrange students in small groups of 4 students. Get the students to arrange themselves in order of magnitude. Swap the groups around and do it again.
  • Ask students to stand in specific parts of the room according to their number. If the number is between 100 & 179, stand at the front of the room in order. If their number is between 180 & 240 stand at the back of the room in order. If the number is more than 240 stand in order in the middle of the room.

2. Ordering numbers

For this task you will need to have a number card prepared for each student. You can click on the picture below to download a set of number cards in the hundreds.

  • Have 6 students select a number card from you.
  • Get the students to stand at the front of the room in order from smallest to largest.
  • Ask other students to select a card and join the line.
  • Continue until all students are in the line.
  • Are each of your students able to place them self in the correct position in the line, or did they need help?

place value3. Create and record numbers

You will need to have prepared 10 small sheets of paper between pairs of students.

  • Give each pair of students 10 small sheets of paper.
  • Get the students to write the numbers 0 – 9 on the bits of paper.
  • Ask your students to turn the bits of paper over so they are face down. Each student selects 3 cards. They use these 3 cards to create and record all the numbers they can.
  • Ask them, how many numbers can be created with 3 digits?

Questions and teaching points

  • What do you notice about the numbers in the lines? Do the lines need to show all the numbers in between the first and last number, why/why not?
  • How do you know which number should be next?
  • Which place value column do you look at first when you’re sorting numbers, why?
  • If a number card is 444, how much bigger is the second 4 than the first?
  • You can extend the tasks by asking your students, what is 1 more than your number or 1 less? Or what is 10 more or 10 less, or 100 more or 100 less than their number?
  • You can also bring in other language that can be used to arrange numbers, e.g. ascending or descending.

What are some of the other ways you help kids to learn about place value?

Click here to find more fun math games and activities

Graphic Credits: Graphics From the Pond

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  1. Tamika

    This is a great idea. Since, I have my niece and grand daughters over, I try to do educational games with them. You have made math sound so easy and fun. My grand daughters love Day 4.

    • Melinda

      Hi Tamika,

      Thanks so much for your comment and I’m glad to hear you’re finding the ideas so useful! That sounds fantastic that you’re spending time with your grandkids and niece to play educational games…go you 😀

      I hope you enjoy what I’ve got planned coming up….and yes math can be fun and easy.



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