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Place value and improved cognitive wellness

Teaching place value is so important! If you are like me, I spend a longer time than necessary teaching and reviewing place value at the start of the school year because it is a fundamental concept in mathematics that serves as the foundation for understanding and performing mathematical operations.

Let's talk specifics:

  1. Understanding place value is essential for performing operations with numbers, including addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

  2. Place value helps students to develop number sense and understand the relationships between numbers.

  3. Teaching place value lays the groundwork for more advanced math concepts, such as decimals, fractions, and algebra.

  4. Place value is also important in real-world situations, such as understanding currency, telling time, and measuring.

Overall, teaching place value is crucial for students to develop a strong foundation in mathematics and to become confident problem solvers. But if students start to learn about place value in kindergarten or first grade - how do you keep the content review fun and engaging?

Two of the most effective strategies I use are practice and group activities:

1) Group activities encourage students to work together. They can build numbers using manipulatives, charts, or other tools. For example, give each group a set of base-10 blocks and have them build numbers, then ask them to explain the value of each digit in the number they built.

2) Practice activities such as games that reinforce the concept of place value. These activities can help students develop a strong understanding of the concept and improve their skills. If you have been following along on my Instagram, you would have learned I'm a HUGE fan of adding movement to my math class, incorporating group and practice strategies.

There are so many benefits (that I outlined here) of incorporating movement into math class. One of my favorite movement-based games is a good, old-fashioned relay race! These are a personal favorite because these games can help students to build teamwork and communication skills, while also providing opportunities for physical exercise.

Here is a game my students beg to play! It's simple!

I live in Ontario so we might not have ideal fall weather when we play this game, so most often, the game has been set up in the gymnasium.

To prep, I divide my students into groups of 4. It isn't always as simple of that - I've had 26 students or injured students or students who aren't working at grade level... so planning ahead will help enormously. If you have any students who do not work in a group of 4, these students make awesome helpers and judges for the various awards! I also had to consider the learning needs of each of my students. This is a great end-of-unit review so hopefully, you will have a better understanding of how to group students for individual and group success at this point.

Once I had my groups in mind, I know how many sets of game cards to make. Each group requires one set of cards. If there are 6 groups with 4 people in each group, I know I am printing and cutting 24 sheets of paper. Keep all of this organized! Take a look at the image below to see how I set it up: group cards are paperclipped to a clipboard with the group member names written on top. This is helpful because I know which pile I'm pulling from as excited (sometimes frantic!) runners come looking for the next card. TIP: set up hula hoops for kids to stand in line. They move forward a hoop as kids move on. This helps avoid a crowd and helps keep the game organized.

Explain the rules before you enter the activity space. The excitement will be palpable and it is difficult to share the expectations for a fun activity in a big space like the gymnasium or outdoors on the playground.

How to Play: Student groups give themselves a team name and number from 1 - 4. On each card, there are specific questions and expectations for each group member, so they must know who is who.

Once you get to the gym or designated space, students assemble on the far side, away from the chart paper. You might want to use a student volunteer (one of the odd numbers!) to write team names on top of the chart paper. This helps students know where they are going to draw. Student #1 is up first. They must run to their chart paper to retrieve the first question card and run back to their group. As students finish, they follow card directions to run back to you (or a student helper!) to check their answers and add to part of the drawing.

Remember when I mentioned awards? There are so many ways to give everyone a "prize" in this game. Have your student helpers keep an eye out for the team with the best collaboration, the best team spirit, the best whatever - there's an award for that! At the end of the activity, the group who finishes first wins, and the group who drew the best picture wins! Treat this as a democratic vote! Use an official ballot.

Ready to give it a try? I guarantee this will be the MOST fun you and your students have ever had to review place value skills while collaborating to draw a popular cartoon character and build cognitive and physical wellness!

Comment below if you have any questions or ideas! I love collaborating with teachers!

Take care of yourself,



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