Grade Levels: K-3

This page provides information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about place value. It is designed to complement the Place Value topic page on BrainPOP Jr.

Help your children understand the relationship between numbers and place value. Place value is the value of a digit depending on its position in the number, such as ones, tens, hundreds, and thousands places. Any number can be broken down by its place value. For example, 32 can been broken down into 32 ones or 3 groups of ten and 2 ones. We recommend giving your children plenty of manipulatives to explore and represent a variety of numbers.

Remind your children that a number is made up of digits or numerals. For example, the number 3 has one digit, while the number 987 has three digits, 9, 8, and 7. Discuss numbers with your children. What is the biggest number they can find in the room? What is the biggest number they can think of? Help children understand that numbers can be infinitely big or small. Each digit in a number stands for a group, called a place value. Our system of number or writing numbers is called a base-ten system because it is based on groupings of 10.

Show the numbers 1 through 9 to your children and name them out loud. We recommend watching the Even and Odd movie together as a review. You may also want to count different groups of items up to 9 and write the number on the board. We recommend demonstrating with base-ten blocks or connecting cubes. Numbers with one digit have only one place value, the ones place.

Remind your children that when you combine 10 ones, you get a group of ten. Write the number 10 on the board. The digit 1 shows that there is 1 one group of ten and 0 ones. Then show a two-digit number such as 36. The digit farthest to the right is the ones place. That number tells you how many ones are in the number. The digit to its left is the tens place. It tells you how many tens are in the number. Use base-ten blocks or connecting cubes to show that 36 can be shown with 36 ones or with 3 groups of ten and 6 ones.

When you are sure your children thoroughly understand tens and ones, explain that when you combine 100 ones, you get a group of one hundred. When you combine 10 tens, you get a group of one hundred. You can demonstrate different groupings using connecting cubes or base-ten blocks. The third digit from the right shows how many hundreds are in the number. So the number 954 has 9 hundreds, 5 tens, and 4 ones. The number 520 has 5 hundreds, 2 tens, and no ones. You may want to explore using the blocks and writing out the numbers in expanded form: 954 = 900 + 50 +4 and 520 = 500 + 20 + 0. Remind your children that when they read a three-digit number, they must read the first digit, then say “hundred,” and then say the rest of the number, as in nine hundred fifty-four and five hundred twenty.

When you combine 1,000 ones, you get a group of one thousand. When you combine 100 tens, you get a group of one thousand. When you combine 10 hundreds, you also get a group of one thousand. When they are ready, model different groupings of a thousand for your children using blocks. The fourth digit from the right is the thousands place and tells how many thousands are in the number. So in the number 4,392 there are 4 thousands, 3 hundreds, 9 tens, and 2 ones. Children should know that when writing a four-digit number, they should place a comma after the thousands place. As they see bigger numbers, they should notice that commas are placed after every three digits from the right. Explain that when they read a number in the thousands, they should say the first digit, say the word “thousand,” and then say the rest of the three-digit number as usual, as in four thousand three hundred ninety-two.

Reading numbers with zeros or ones in the middle can be challenging for some students because they must remember to hold the place of the digit without saying its exact name. Demonstrate how to read numbers like three hundred eight, four thousand twenty one, six hundred twelve, or five thousand four hundred nineteen. It’s helpful to remind children to read the final two numerals together as a simple two-digit number.

Expose your children to a wide variety of numbers in different contexts, such as in books or on flyers and signs. Have them read different numbers out loud and explore how they can be divided into their place values. We recommend using number lines, connecting cubes, base-ten blocks, place value charts, and hundred charts to help children visualize numbers in different ways.