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Article Summary: "Place value needs lots of practice. Reinforce the vocabulary. Remind children that it is very important to listen and write a number carefully; that the numbers should be in order and that the numbers should be in the correct position."

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How to Teach the Concept of Place Value

Children start off very early in elementary school learning the concept of place value. Prior to second grade children are taught place value to 99. Children must be very sure of place value to 99 before they move up to place value to 1000 or it will be much more difficult. Once children show and good understanding of place value with tens and ones, introduce place value with hundreds, tens, and ones. Learning place value is easy for some students and others for some reason just don't get it right away. Children look at numbers sometimes as infinite, they just keep growing and growing but when you try to teach them how to group or bundle those numbers they can often lose the structure. For children to understand place value, they first need to be able to name numbers, do simple additions and subtractions with small numbers and understand how to group count. Often if the educator has the children faced with multiple objects and then has them count by twos, fives, tens, or even hundreds, this will make them better understand the concept that by doing this they do not have to count individually.

Use any object, maybe toothpicks or basically anything that is small and will not roll, have the children group them into groups of fives, then tens. Explain to them that two groups of ten equal twenty. Do not have all of the groups result in an equal number as you want them to see what happens if there are say five groups of ten, which they will know equals fifty, and then make three left over. Explain to them that means they have five groups of ten that equals fifty plus three which equals 53. Once you feel as though the children have grasped this concept then you will want them to be able to write what they have learned on paper explaining that each column represents a different size group. In other words if you had the number 952, 9 would be in the hundreds group, 5 would be in the tens group, and 2 would be in the ones group. So when you have 9 groups of 100, 5 groups of tens, and 2 groups of 1 the end result would = 952.

There are at least five aspects to being able to understand place-value and none of those five should be ignored, however quite often they are. One very good tool for teaching place value is poker chips because they are in various colors it is easier for the child to visualize and then comprehend. White chips = 1, blue chips = 10, and red chips = 100. Sounds simple enough so far, right? Make the children understand that if one child has 10 white chips and they trade another student for 1 blue chip, they are the same amount. Proceed with activities such as this for a while or until you are sure that the children understand what is happening. Then, starts having the children use the chips to make a number that you give them using the least mount of chips possible. Say the number you give to them is 63. Well, using the chips would means that the way to accomplish this is to use 6 blue chips which would equal 60 and then add 3 white chips to equal 63.

Place value needs lots of practice. Reinforce the vocabulary. Remind children that it is very important to listen and write a number carefully; that the numbers should be in order and that the numbers should be in the correct position.