Do you want to know the number one thing I hear from teachers about teaching place value to their students? It’s a struggle! And as someone who taught for over 11 years, I can confirm.
On the surface, place value seems like an easy concept to teach but what I’ve learned is that nothing is ever what it seems. Students are trying to understand that numbers are more than just what they are. They have a place in the grand scheme of things. Their little minds are blown when we start talking ones, tens, and hundreds!
I am a firm believer that we achieve many things easier when we have someone to help us along the way. That’s why I swear by introducing partner games and activities as one of the first steps to teaching place value.
When students work together, they can borrow from each other’s knowledge. One may be a master at expanded form while the other is a word form wizard. We can use this to our advantage to help students get a better grasp on practicing place value in the classroom.
And it really doesn’t hurt that math games are just stinkin’ FUN!
Today, I want to share 5 partner games for teaching place value that are sure to get your students excited about working together, learning a new skill, and boosting their comprehension of place value!
Oh, and I pulled a FREEBIE for you from my Magic of Math Place Value unit so you can get started right away! In fact, each activity mentioned below is from that place value resource. You can learn more about Magic of Math for Place Value HERE.
Let’s get started!
Place Value Park It: Multi-Skill Activity
In Place Value Park It, students are working on multiple skills- expanded form, word form, 10/100 more and less, etc. It’s important to have activities that vary the skills so students can get exposure to a certain skill without it always being in isolation.
As teachers, we can get a better understanding of their comprehension and when they’re working with partners, this is a great time for each to work together to understand which skill the other excels at.
For this activity, students will partner up. Using dice, each rolls to get a number and moves along the game board that many spaces. Students find the number they landed on in the center of the board and they cover the number with a manipulative, dot marker, highlighter, or whatever works for your classroom! The first one to get 5 in a row, wins!
Cover a Number Place Value Game
There’s nothing more exciting than a guessing game! This card-style partner game for practicing place value helps students identify numbers based on its description.
To play Cover a Number, students break off into pairs with one stack of cards and a game board. Each student will take turns grabbing a card from the deck, reading the description, equation, or expanded form to find the number, and highlighting the correct number on the game board. Once one of them reaches 5 in a row, they are the winner!
You can have each student pick a marker color to represent their turn on the board. Your students will have a blast guessing their way to a win!
Swat It! Playing with Expanded Form
I love a good spin game and they’re so easy to replicate in the classroom with something as simple as paper clips! Students love using spinners, too!
With the Swat It partner game for practicing place value, students will be swatting at their numbers!
In pairs, students will create a number together. Using their spinners, they will take turns spinning to see which place they land on. Students need to swat at the number that’s in that place AND give the correct value. The first to get both right is the winner!
Have students practice this over and over again until the time is up. Don’t be afraid to get creative with the swatters your students will use! But of course, the hand works just fine, too.
Pro Tip: Be sure to use laminated Swat It mats and spinner sheets so they can be reused and students can write on them with dry-erase markers!
Getting Crafty with Place value
I wouldn’t be Amy Lemons if I didn’t include a fun craft! And this Place Value Octopus activity has 3 great benefits!
- Students will work individually to create their place value Octopus.
- Students will work together as a class to put their numbers in order.
- You get a wonderful craft to display for your classroom to show what your students have learned!
I call that a win-win-win. Here’s how it works.
First, students will make their place value Octopus! After putting the pieces together, students will create a number and complete 8 tasks along the tentacles.
Then, after everyone is done, you can have your students line up and place themselves in order from least to greatest WITHOUT speaking!
I love this activity because it works so well at the start of the year when we’re learning how to work as a team. Students will be building trust AND nailing place value!
Place Value Spin (FREEBIE for you!)
Now, for that FREEBIE! Yes, it’s another spin game. Although we are talking all about partner games for practicing place value, don’t be afraid to use this Place Value Spin activity for individual practice.
With a partner, students will be completing 5 tasks to have some fun with numbers! First, each partner takes a turn spinning to find their number. They spin once for the tens place and once for the ones place. They can either write them down or draw them with ones/tens blocks into their respective sections. Then, they find their number and write it in expanded form.
How to turn this into a partner game: Make it a challenge of who can get the highest numbers by having whoever spins the large number color in the circle each time they spin! The one with the most colored numbers wins!
Best of all, you can test out this activity in your classroom right away! Just grab the FREEBIE below:
I think we can all agree that playing partner games for practicing place value is more fun, more engaging, and more likely to stick!
Which of these activities would you like to try out? Let me know down below!
Interested in learning more about our Magic of Math resource for practicing place value with your students?
Get a deeper look at everything we include in our 2nd Grade Magic of Math Lesson Plans for Place Value on my TPT shop! Along with these 5 partner games, you’ll find daily mini-lessons, individual activities, interactive notebook tasks, and so much more for a full month!
Find it HERE.