Tools to Teach Place Value - Lucky Little Learners
November Math Centers for 1st grade and 2nd grade

Tools to Teach Place Value

Blog Posts, Math, Place Value

Written by: Mary Kate Bolinder

Blocks, chips, mats, oh my! When it comes to teaching place value to first and second graders, there are so many tools to choose from. But which place value tools are best for your students? Let’s take a closer look at some of the top math manipulatives for place value instruction.

Read on for the best place value tools and why you need them in your classroom!

tools to teach place value

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Unifix Cubes

unifix cubes

One of the most versatile tools in your classroom is the unifix cube. Children as young as preschool can use unifix cubes to help develop number sense. Students can learn that each cube has a value of one. Using a ten frame, have students fill the ten frame with unifix cubes – then have them stack the cubes together. They now have a rod of 10! Continue to practice with unifix cubes: create rods of 10, add one more/one less, count by tens – the possibilities are endless!  

printable unifix cubes

Base Ten Blocks and Place Value Mats

base ten blocks and place value mats

What two math tools go hand-in-hand? Base ten blocks and place value mats! When introducing students to new manipulatives, it is important to give them independent time to explore the materials. What observations do they make? Do they notice any similarities or differences between the cubes (ones), rods (tens), and flats (hundreds)? What happens when ten cubes are stacked together? Does it look like a rod? What happens when you line up ten rods? What does it look like?

Once students have an understanding of the values assigned to each manipulative, you can work together to represent new numbers with these tools. With a concrete understanding of place value, students will have the tools they need to transition to more abstract concepts like regrouping. 

printable base ten blocks

A place value mat helps visual learners organize manipulatives into columns. The Lucky Little Toolkit features three different place value mats, in both print and digital format. This tool can grow with your learners all year!

printable place value mat

Place Value Discs (or chips)

Want to take a gamble on what inspired these popular math manipulatives? If you wagered on poker chips, you’re right! Place value discs, or chips, are a fun tool to use with students who already have a basic understanding of place value. Each disc is assigned a different color, and each color has an assigned value (ones, tens, hundreds, thousands, etc.). Using a place value mat and manipulating the discs similarly to base ten blocks, students can represent different numbers. Place value chips also have the value written on it in standard form, which helps to reinforce the connection between the numeral and the assigned value. 

place value chips

How to Organize Math Manipulatives

​​It’s no secret that we LOVE math manipulatives! But we DON’T love when our favorite tools get mixed up and unorganized. Who has time to sort through all that mess after a busy day of teaching? We’ve got all the organization tips and storage needs for keeping your math centers and manipulatives looking great.

math manipulative storage trays

No manipulatives? No problem!

lucky little toolkit

The Lucky Little Toolkit is filled with the tools you need to print and teach a hands-on place value lesson, plus OVER 400 PAGES of other math and reading resources to use throughout the year. Digital resources are also included!

  • Base Ten Blocks
  • Hundreds Chart and 120 Chart
  • Place Value Chips
  • Place Value Mat
  • Ten Frames
  • Unifix Cubes
lucky little toolkit printable math manipulatives

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Lucky Little Toolkit

Find more ways to practice place value with our Place Value Interactive Notebook FREEBIE! Features 13 pages of interactive notebook prompts and activities.

free place value math notebook activity

A few of our favorite place value products

We are saving time by bringing some of our favorite place value finds to YOU!

How fun is this place value answer board? This would be a great tool to supplement small group instruction and games, or quickly check for understanding with the whole class.

place value answer board

We love this cute Polka Dot Pocket Chart. Works for morning meeting, modeling, and whole class instruction!

place value pocket chart

This Place Value Frame with number tiles keeps base ten blocks neatly in place. Students will have fun with this independent practice tool!

place value frame

Students can take these no-prep Place Value Activity Cards to their seats for extra practice. Multiple levels of difficulty included to meet learners at all stages of understanding!

place value activity cards

Rock and ROLL with place value dice.

place value dice

We want to play this Math Stacks Place Value Card Game. Students can play in groups or independently to master place value!

place value math stacks game

Do you have any of these tools in your classroom? Tell us what math manipulatives you love for teaching place value in the comments!

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tools to teach place value

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Welcome, I’m Angie!

Hello there! I’m Angie Olson- a teacher, curriculum developer, educational blogger and owner of Lucky Little Learners.

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