As the beginning of the year approaches (or has started for some), we look at lessons and units to help start off the year. One of the units is place value. Why? It helps students understand the meaning of the numbers they are writing and using. Without this foundational knowledge students can struggle in regrouping, understanding expanded notation, speaking, and writing the word form of standard numbers. Included below are some collected ideas and units to help strengthen students place value understanding.
Place Value Houses Project Idea –
Mrs. Hansen’s Helpfuls
One strategy I use to help build the skills for a strong place value foundation is to create Place Value Houses. This project allows students to visually see how numbers are grouped into “threes” and allows students to practice number formation, speaking, and writing. They are simple to make. Just draw houses with three bedrooms a piece. Label the house bedrooms ones, tens, and hundreds. Then name the houses hundreds, thousands, millions, etc. Students even love to make it look like a neighborhood. Students can also make number cards to fit into the houses.
Other practice is also available through self-checking task cards. Students can decipher expanded notation and word form to make the standard numbers. Students look at the task card and then build the number on the Place Value Houses. To check students simply flip over the card. Once the Place Value Houses are built, these task cards can make a great center!
Interested but don’t want to make them from scratch? No problem, try these products:
Place Value Houses Project
Place Value Task Cards – Self-Checking
Math Mysteries – Mrs. J’s Resources
Revisiting and building on place value knowledge is a necessary task to set up students for success to learn new math concepts later on in the year. The place value math mystery “Case of The Puzzled Pirate” has been built as a fun activity to practice and consolidate a variety of place value skills in one. Its design for different levels allows for you to choose the best option for your students. Choose an earlier (or easier) grade level to refresh students before starting a new Place value unit, or choose the level that meets your standards to review content learned at the end of a unit. The added factor of the mystery will help students try and persevere with challenging sections, and will help you gauge just how much your students know (or don’t!)
Check out the bonus video hook that comes with "Case of The Puzzled Pirate" to set the stage to engage!:
Click on he grade level below to find out the Place Value skills and level of difficulty in each:
The 2nd to 6th grade clue sheets are interchangeable to differentiate the activity for your students (as long as it is the same clue number).
Practice Makes Perfect! – Kelly Malloy
Once your students have mastered the place value skills required for your grade level, you will want to make sure to practice and review them so that they don’t lose them! I Have, Who Has games are a great way to practice skills in the classroom. They are a great whole group activity that can be used for review, test prep, fluency, listening skills, and mental math. My students and I love using these games to review our skills and place value is no exception.
I have a special freebie Place Value I Have Who has game that you can download here.
I also have Daily Math Review Resources for 1st through 5th grade that not only review place value, but other skills as well! You can find them here:
CHOOSE YOUR LEVEL FOR PLACE VALUE DIFFICULTY
First up, you need to choose the place value range of difficulty you wish to practice. As you can see in the image below, the levels vary from 3-digit to 7-digit numbers. Depending on the age and ability of the player, you can easily adjust the game to suit his/her practice needs.
HOW TO PLAY
A math problem will appear on the top of the screen along with four possible answers. Click the correct answer to have a new house added to your town.
Progression will unlock new levels to add trees, cars and other exciting objects.
The AIM OF THE GAME is to make your town as beautiful as possible (the more practice along with correct answers = a nicer town). Players can click the 'Show Off' button to view their town without the math questions.
CLICK HERE TO PLAY THIS PLACE VALUE GAME!
Instant access for free, no sign up required.
This beautiful game will make practicing place value fun and is worth the screen time on this. Whether a teacher or a parent, I think it is a game worth adding to your screen time list of games to play.
To find and access more Place Value online games CLICK HERE
You may also like this fun Place Value Math Mystery activity, "Case of The Puzzled Pirate."
It comes with an optional Video Hook --- view below:
Check out some of the feedback from other teachers who have used this Place Value Math Mystery with their students:
CLICK ON THE INDIVIDUAL GRADE COVERS TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE PLACE VALUE SKILLS & DIFFICULTY LEVELS COVERED IN EACH VERSION.
First, depending on which skill level you are teaching, you will need to create some paper cards of numbers you want students to explore during the lesson. I just used a marker to write them out on paper and then cut them into cards.
Then, depending on the range, create little labels with your pieces of paper to show all of the place values that are present in your number list range. To go with the example above, I’ve made labels for Hundreds, Tens, and Ones. Again, I just used a marker and paper, cutting them out to the size I want. You could print out, laminate or use cardboard to make them last longer.
Next, place some Playdough onto the desk where the activity will be carried out. Mold the Playdough into a rectangular prism (it doesn't have to be perfect).. The larger the numbers you are exploring, the longer your Playdough rectangle ‘platform’ will need to be.
I know, not quite the masterpiece you were expecting!!
Place a spaghetti stick vertically into the Playdough for each Place Value spot you are exploring. So in my example below I only need three. Then position your Place Value labels (Hundreds, Tens, Ones), under each stick to show the place value position of a number.
Place Cheerios on the desk for the activity. Provide either blank pieces of paper for your students to use OR download and print off the template I have included for free below.
Tell your students that they will need to use the Cheerios to build onto the Spaghetti sticks to represent the numbers you have listed. Each time they make a number, instruct them to record the drawing of the number on a piece of paper (or onto the template provided).
Explain that each spaghetti stick cannot ever have more than ten Cheerios placed on it.
After finishing the activity, conduct a reflection discussion about why you cannot put more than ten Cheerios on any spaghetti stick. Explore what students did, what they found easy/difficult; what they noticed. Talk about a Cheerio on each stick and talk about the value of a single Cheerio on a given stick depending on which Place Value position it has been put in.
The FREE template to go with this activity can be downloaded below. It comes with different place value levels for differentiation. I also included labels that can be printed off for place value positions up to Ten Thousands if you prefer to use for your Tower Labels.
Time to finish your unit on Place Value? Try this fun Place Value Math Mystery that helps review place value concepts in an exciting way!
It comes with an optional video introduction to gain your students' attention at the start ...
Then hand over the activity for them to crack the case!
Find a grade level with place value skills that suits your kids best!
Students must use their place value skills to discover important clues!
See who is successful in figuring out where the treasure is!
This Literacy Mystery is a fun and educational activity for upper Elementary students. Students must read, comprehend, infer and critically think to solve what happened to Larry's wand. Challenging, yet engaging . . . see who can solve the case correctly!
If you have used one of my math mystery packets, you are probably aware that most of the stories come in different grade levels. If you haven’t used one yet, I will show you where to get a free copy later in this post. Because I designed the grade levels in a way to enable use for differentiation purposes, the mystery solutions are the same in all. What I didn’t plan for was the fact that so many of you wonderful teachers are using these math mysteries in your classrooms and the possibility of running into a class (or some students) who have done a particular math mystery story before are beginning to happen. Also, some feedback has suggested that other grade levels want to use these activities, but don’t want to do so in case one class spills the solution beans to another class who hasn’t done it yet. So, I’ve taken all of this on board and have added ‘Editable suspect/location/cure/scenario lists’ to all of the mystery packets. With the editable file, I have also added two bonus pre-made alternative lists. In this post, I will explain this new update, including how to make yourself a new list.
THE CLUES WILL STILL BE THE SAME SO KEEP ‘COMBOS’ THE SAME
Although the final solution is changeable, the clues will need to remain the same. For this reason, the combinations in the columns (except for column 1) should stay as they are.
*A ‘combo’ is the information given in columns 2- 6,
An example from 'Case of The Super Bad Superhero' is circled below:
You can change the row position of a combo; in fact, I recommend shuffling the rows as well as changing names in column 1. But altering these too much can collide with the clues. So, if you do make some minor adjustments to the details, please check that the elimination process still works with the clues of the mystery.
EDITABLE LISTS ONLY AVAILABLE FOR MATH MYSTERY PACKETS GRADES 2 and up
The Kindergarten and first-grade math mysteries do not have this update due to the different set up of this section for those versions. However, this shouldn’t be a problem because the Kindergarten ones are completely different in process and solution anyway, and the first graders will be the first to do a story of its kind.
NAME CHANGING IN THE FIRST COLUMN
Change the names of suspects, locations, cures or even scenarios to your liking. Add your students’ names, familiar location names or throw in some new made-up names. If you have time, a fun idea may be to invite your students to come up with some ideas for the list. The only thing that you may need to be careful of is labeling something in column 1 with a combo row that obviously doesn’t add up and may confuse students.
For example, if you put in column 1 “The Forbidden Forest,” but location type is marked as ‘beach’ in that row, your students will probably raise an eyebrow.
SHUFFLE TO KEEP STUDENTS GUESSING
I recommend shuffling rows and mixing column 1 labels with the combos. Doing so, is particularly important if you know that your students have already done the math mystery story you are about to attempt. Shuffle the rows, and either alter the names/titles in column 1 or shuffle the column 1 names around to match up with a new combo.
An easy way to do a ‘SHUFFLE’ is to use the blank list template provided on page 4 in the editable file.
8 EASY STEPS TO SHUFFLE IT UP!
2 Duplicate the original list on page 2 above the copy of the blank template you made in step 1. The original list from 'Case of The Super Bad Superhero' is below.
3. Note the mystery answer of the original list on page 3.
4. Cut the combo of the mystery answer from your Page 2 copy and paste in a new row position on your blank page.
5. Either choose a different name in column 1 from the original list to pair with the ‘answer combo’ or write new ideas into column 1. I put 'Exampletron' in the image example above. Now, this is your new Mystery Solution Answer and must be the final row remaining after the revealing of all five clues.
6. Continue to cut and paste combos from the original list into different rows of the new blank page.
Tip: It's best to 'cut' and paste, rather than 'copy' and paste, so that you know which combos you have done already. This is the reason for the duplicating suggestion made in Steps 1 and 2 (so you have the original templates still in tact for next time).
7. After all combos have been transferred to the new page, you can either cut and paste column 1 names and pair them up with a new combo row on your list, or make up new names for column 1.
Below is an example of a new one I made, which is included in the 'Case of The Super Bad Superhero' packet to use as a ready-made alternative list.
8. Finally, check by reading the clues in the answer section of the math mystery and trying out the elimination process yourself to make sure only one row remains at the end.
USING THE PRE-MADE ALTERNATIVE LISTS
Within the editable PPT document for every packet download, pages 5 and 6 contain two NEW lists that automatically are set to give a different mystery solution. I made these so that if you do discover that you need a different mystery solution, but do not have the time to carry out the steps above, you can quickly just print one of those off and swap out with the original. On page 1 within the editable file, there is a section that briefs you on the mystery answer solution for each pre-made list. I've circled where to look for it in the Case of The Super Bad Superhero example . . . this is set up the same way as editable files in all of the other math mysteries.
Unless your students have brilliant memories and remember all of the clues to make the exact answer combo of a specific mystery, this mix-up of final solutions should keep them guessing until the end. A lot of combos are similar, so it would be tough to remember the exact combination (but, certainly not putting it past any photographic memories out there).
All new math mysteries I make will now also contain the editable list to carry out these changes.
GRAB the multi-grade bundle of the math mystery 'Case of The Super Bad Superhero' completely FREE to try out! It also comes with the editable list and two pre-made alternative lists!
The Math Mystery ‘Case of The School Invaders’ is great for this sort of assessment at the beginning of the new school year.
My Back to School Math Mystery called ‘Case of The School Invaders’ has been designed for this sort of assessment right at the beginning of the school year. It is a fun way to get your students back into the rhythm of math while helping you gauge their math abilities (to the extent of the skills covered in the packet at least). In the ‘Case of The School Invaders’ packets, the grade levels incorporate a review of math concepts based on the previous grade level requirements (this may vary depending on your curriculum, so please check in the item description what math skills are covered to see if it suits your standards). If you decide that you like using math mysteries as an assessment for learning instead of an end of unit review/post-assessment, you can always use earlier (or easier) grade level editions (if available) as a warm-up into a math unit. For example, if I wanted to begin working on addition skills with my third graders, I would use the second-grade edition of ‘Case of The Angry Adder,’ an addition focused math mystery, to begin the unit with my students. While they worked on it, I would observe to see if they have mastered earlier addition skills before moving on to new content OR if not, work on earlier skills before moving on to new content to make sure everyone will be set up for better success with new/ harder math work.
I have a math mystery FREEBIE available HERE if you would like to try before you buy. It comes in multiple difficulty levels.
Otherwise, the Back to School ‘Case of The School Invaders’ Packets are available through the picture links below. Also comes with a NEW Video Hook! The video hook is an optional extra you could use to set the stage to engage your new students into math this year!
Click the covers to find out more on my TPT store!
A 21st century School Teacher, Mother, and Wife.
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