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Home » Blog » Math » Place Value Strategies for 1st and 2nd Grade

Place Value Strategies for 1st and 2nd Grade

1st & 2nd Grade Math Skills, Math, Place Value

Written by: Mary Kate Bolinder

Ready to dive into place value strategies with first and second graders? Try these top tips to explore place value in your classroom.

place value strategies for 1st and 2nd grade

Top 5 Place Value Strategies

#1 – Daily Place Value Practice

Make place value practice part of your daily classroom routine. Incorporate place value discussion and review into morning meeting by counting the number of days in school, attendance, lunch count, and so much more! Use math chats daily in the classroom, and watch your students' place value understanding grow! What creative items can you use to show place value? Base ten blocks? Popsicle sticks? Marbles? We would love to hear your ideas of “out of the box” items to express place value in the comments below!

math calendar and classroom bulletin board
Photo Credit: Kyler Cheries Turner

#2 – The Benefits of the 100 Chart

Do you have a 100 chart posted in your classroom? This can be a versatile tool for exploring place value. Do a quick place value game during transitions or when you have a spare moment during the day (spare moments DO happen sometimes, right?!). For example: Ask, 

  • What number is ten more than 58? 
  • What number is one less than 73? 
  • Can you find a number with 8 in the ones place? 
  • Where do you see a number with a 5 in the tens place? 

As your students get better at answering these questions, have them take turns asking the place value questions! Or play the game “I Have, Who Has,” from our Lucky to Learn Math Curriculum. Exploring relationships in counting (counting by ones, fives, tens, hundreds, etc.) develops a stronger number sense, and a stronger number sense equals a better understanding of place value!

hundreds chart for teaching place value
Download the Mental Math Sheet

#3 – Anchor Charts

Create an anchor chart with your students to showcase the different ways to express place value. Keep it posted in your classroom for quick and easy review! Download and print these helpful place value anchor charts. They can be printed poster sized, projected for the class, or printed so each student has an individual copy. You can find our place value anchor charts here.

place value anchor chart

#4 – Make Learning Concrete with Base Ten Blocks

Having a concrete understanding of number sense and place value sets students up for success. Soon they will begin to explore more abstract and complex concepts, but a strong understanding of place value will make math a breeze. Base ten blocks truly are the building blocks of place value! Use place value mats and base ten blocks for hands-on exploration. Or give this digital center a try as students explore more with base 10 blocks!

base ten blocks for teaching place value
Download this Place Value Painting Sheet

#5 – Use Resources for Teaching Place Value

A great place to start with place value instruction is our Lucky to Learn Math curriculum: Building a Place Value Community. Students will follow along with expertly designed lessons that feature whole class, collaborative, and independent activities. Download the first place value unit here!

Go to this post for some awesome Lucky Little Learners place value resources (plus some freebies!)

If you are looking for research-based, engaging, and effective place value resources, check out our place value activities. With over 200 options, you're sure to find something for small group intervention, centers, and whole group instruction.

Here are a few more fantastic place value resources to try:

Picture Books: Make a cross-curricular connection by exploring these picture books that feature place value. Do you or your school library have any of these popular titles?

childrens books that teach about place value

Videos: Your students (and you!) will have these songs stuck in their heads all day. Sing along and have some fun with these classroom videos to teach place value.

math videos that teach place value

Practice Sheets: The Lucky Little Learners Place Value Worksheets have everything students need to master place value! Featuring 71 worksheets for whole class instruction, independent practice, and review (both print and digital formats!). Get a closer look in our Place Value Worksheets post and also in the video below!

Lucky to Learn Math Curriculum

Make math the best part of your day with the Lucky to Learn Math curriculum, including this unit on place value for 1st grade. (2nd grade available also.) This resource includes everything you need for an engaging and effective math block. Check it out below!

Get Lucky to Learn Math 1st Grade

Get Lucky to Learn Math 2nd Grade

Celebrate with the 1,000 Club

The 1,000 Club Number Book is a task that my students do every year. I give my students the challenge of writing their numbers from 1-1,000. Each sheet in the book contains 100 boxes for the students to write their numbers in order. They get one page a day to complete. After they have successfully completed all 1,000 numbers, they are given a 1,000 Club brag tag.  You can grab both of these resources for free here.

Interactive Math Notebooks for Teaching Place Value:

math notebooks that teach place value
Download this activity

Place Value Task Cards:

place value task cards for second grade
Download Place Value Math Task Cards

Place Value Toothy:

math toothy place value activity
Download this place value Toothy game

place value strategies for 1st and 2nd grade


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Hey there!  I’m Angie, owner of Lucky Little Learners. Our #1 goal is to support K-2 teachers.  We provide unlimited access to over 20,000 printables that are aligned to your standards.