Place value is one of the most important concepts we teach our first grade students. It’s the key to exploring the world of numbers and building a foundation for other math skills. When introducing place value in first grade, it’s important to start with groups of ten before jumping straight to base ten blocks. In this blog post, I’m sharing why along with 5 fun activities for place value that build a solid foundation of groups of ten.
Why is Introducing Place Value Important?
There are numerous reasons why place value is such a key math concept for young first graders to master. Place value is the foundation for several other math concepts and helps students understand how numbers are represented in different ways. This is key when it comes to learning how to compose and decompose numbers, build numbers, add, subtract, complete order of operations, and more.
Plus, a strong grasp of place value increases students’ number sense skills. These number sense skills must be established before students are introduced to more complex concepts.
How to Introduce Place Value in 1st Grade
When you think of teaching place value, you might automatically think about using base ten blocks. While base ten blocks are one of the best ways to teach place value, we must take it a step back when introducing place value in first grade.
Without a strong understanding of skip counting and making groups of ten, students won’t be successful with the base ten strategy. That’s why it’s crucial to use groups of 10 activities FIRST.
5 Groups of Ten Activities for Place Value
Teaching place value with groups of ten activities can be a fun, hands-on experience for your students. The more engaged they are in their learning, the stronger their place value skills will become. Check out these 5 groups of ten activities for teaching place value in 1st grade, before you bust out those base ten blocks!
Groups of 10 Activity
My 1st grade place value to 120 unit kicks off by introducing students to the concept of groups of ten by having them identify how many groups of 10 are in a given number and how many ones are left over.
Not only does this help them skip count and identify groups of 10, but it incorporates the concept of a number being comprised of tens and ones. This activity gives students a great visual representation as well.
Scoop and Group
Scoop and Group is one of my favorite small group activities for practicing place value in first grade. Students will scoop their items and put them into groups of ten. Once they have made as many groups of 10 as possible, they record how many tens and how many ones are left over to create their number.
You can use a variety of items with this activity, such as beads, mini erasers, chocolate candies, marshmallows, etc. You can get creative with this one to make it more fun for your students!
Scooping Up Groups of 10
When introducing place value with groups of ten, it’s key to give students time to practice and apply what they’ve learned. Scooping up Groups of 10 is a great whole group review activity. Students will draw a place value task card and determine how many groups of ten ice cream scoops there are and how many ones are left over on each task card before recording their answers.
To make this activity even more fun, hang the task cards around the room, give students a clipboard, and have them complete this activity with or without a partner by moving around the room until they complete each task card.
Ice Cream Interactive Notebook Activity
Another one of my favorite activities for place value is practicing groups of ten using interactive notebook flip-flap activities. This is a great way to reinforce skills and give students something to reference throughout the year.
For this groups of ten activity, students will look at the ice cream scoops and skip count by tens and ones to determine the number. Then, they’ll lift the flap and record it underneath.
Groups of 10 Exit Tickets
When teaching place value using groups of 10, it’s important to gauge how your students are doing with the concept before moving on to base ten blocks. Using place value exit tickets that specifically have students show what they know about groups of ten is a great way to check for understanding and plan for future place value lessons.
Learning place value is an exciting time for 1st graders that helps them unlock a whole world of mathematical possibilities. Start with the basics by practicing skip counting and groups of 10 before introducing base ten blocks. With these fun activities, your students will be well on their way to mastering this skill!
Leave me a comment below and let me know which of these activities your students would love most!