Aug 3, 2012

Place Value Cards

I have become a huge fan of place value cards!  I first saw this handy teaching tools last summer while I was at a teaching conference in Vegas.  Now that I’ve used it with the students, I can’t imagine learning without them!  The place value cards have solved so many mistakes kids often make, such as not lining up digits correctly when adding or subtracting, forgetting the place of each digit, or not understanding the true value of digits in numbers (such as, the 5 in 59 actually represents 50, not 5).  We have used these handy cards for place value, multi-digit addition and subtraction and composing and decomposing numbers. but the biggest help has been teaching the students to write numbers in expanded form.  Here’s an example; this is how we show the number 485 using place value cards.  
Each place value is color-coded so kids realize that each digit in a number has a different value.  When they realize this, they no longer line up digits incorrectly because they understand that the ones have to be added to each other, the tens have to be added to each other, etc. 
Then, to write in expanded form, the kids simply pull the cards apart, or “expand” the number. Expanded form is suddenly a piece of cake!

I was so excited to find smaller student sets  at and had copies available at Back to School night for parents to take home and cut out.  (Teacher Tip: Store them in snack-size baggies to keep them in order & organized)  Keep in mind that color-coding is vital!  If you want, you can buy a teacher set at Crystal Springs Books; I put business card magnets on the back of mine so I could use them on the board. 
For older grades, there are also ones with decimals you can buy here.


  1. GREAT idea! Where could I get the templates for the place value cards (hundred, tens and ones?)

    1. They're at - check out the link above!