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Place Value Boxes | Free Place Value Worksheets for 2nd Grade

Now that we’ve made it through the first few weeks of school and are getting in the groove of guided math, it’s time to start gearing up to teach place value in 2nd grade! This is one of my favorite concepts to teach, and this year, I’m trying out a new activity called place value boxes! This is a simple, fun, and hands-on way to reinforce place value. In this blog post, I’m going to show you exactly how to set this up. Plus, I have a set of free place value worksheets for you to go along with it!

place value boxes

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Reinforcing Place Value With Pill Boxes

Place value is one of the most important math skills that 2nd grade students learn. It sets the foundation for so many other skills that they’ll learn throughout the year and grades to come, such as addition and subtraction with regrouping, and more. 

While I was taking a break from planning my place value math lessons a few weeks ago and scrolling through Amazon, I kept seeing these random pill boxes popping up on my feed. I didn’t think much of it, until it dawned on me… these were perfect for reinforcing place value!

I had seen this idea to use pill boxes to practice place value and generate numbers before, but the problem I always faced was that in 2nd grade with the Texas TEKS standards, you teach numbers up to 1200, and with the Common Core standards, you teach numbers up to 999. Most typical pill boxes have seven slots, which would generate way too large of numbers. 

However, this particular pill box that I recently found is perfect because there are four slots, which is ideal for generating numbers up to the thousands place! Plus, this set has fun neon colors and comes in a handy case that holds 7 pill boxes (perfect for small groups!). 

place value boxes with pill boxes

You can see exactly what these look like and how I created my place value boxes in the YouTube video below.

How To Make Place Value Boxes

Place value boxes are super simple to make and use with your students. The set of pill boxes I got had little pictures to represent the time of day, so I covered the pictures with squares I cut from Avery mailing labels and labeled them Th, H, T, and O for thousands, hundreds, tens, and ones. You could also do this with circle stickers.

I also labeled them the same way on the inside of the pill box so that students could see the place value when they opened their pill box. It took me about 10 minutes to create this set for my small groups. 

Next, take small standard dice and place them inside of the compartments of the pill boxes. You can use tiny foam dice if you have them, but I love that these slots were big enough to shake a dice and allow them to move freely and change numbers each time. To challenge students further, you could use 10-sided dice to create larger numbers.

reinforcing place value with place value boxes

How to Use Place Value Boxes

To use place value boxes to reinforce skills and generate numbers, students simply shake the pill box to generate a number. Since these pill boxes are clear, students can look through the bottom to see the number or open the pill box to see it. Using the labels for reference, they’ll build or write the number they created from the dice. 

You can easily differentiate this by practicing 2-digit, 3-digit, or 4-digit numbers. To practice with fewer than 4-digits, simply remove the dice from those compartments. 

Place value boxes are a super simple and versatile way to reinforce place value skills and practice building numbers of various sizes. You could even have students model the numbers they created with base ten blocks or write them in expanded form, word form, etc. The pill boxes keep the dice controlled, making it a great small group activity.

free place value worksheets

Free Place Value Worksheets

Now that you know how to make and use place value boxes, I want to share a simple activity that you can use them with. I call this activity, Shake It Up! This activity is easy to differentiate and comes in options for 2-digit, 3-digit, and 4-digit numbers. 

To play, students will fill the designated number of compartments in their pill box with dice. They’ll shake the place value box to see what number they generated based on the place value.

They’ll write the number in standard form in the space, then read the prompt on the recording sheet to either write the number in expanded form, word form, or model it with base ten blocks. 

You can grab this set of differentiated free place value worksheets for your classroom by filling out the form below. It’ll be sent straight to your inbox so you can print it out and start using it with your students!

I plan to keep these place value boxes at my small group table to use along with various activities to generate numbers, practice addition and subtraction, and work on comparing and ordering numbers all year long. Plus, you can fit seven pill boxes in the case, and I never have more than six students in my small groups, so it works perfectly! 

If you’re looking for more activities and lesson plans for reinforcing place value in 2nd grade, check out these resources and blog posts below!

Do you have a favorite place value activity? Tell me in the comments below!

place value boxes
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