Taking Place Value to a New Level - Students Teach Little Buddies

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Students will be able to explain place value and teach a game to their buddies.

Big Idea

What better way to learn than to teach!


What a better way to learn is to teach a younger student!  My class has little buddies with another multiage 2nd and 3rd grade class and a single Kindergarten class.  I love taking this time to have my students teach or help the younger students.  It builds such character, pride, understanding and flexibility. 

In this activity my class meet with our 2nd/3rd grade little buddies and they taught them the new way to play the Place Value game. 

All you need for your students is a die (the number of sides depends on the age and abilities of the buddies) pencil and Math Journals to record the numbers. 

If you don't have dice I've included a  pattern to print and make some. 

Playing the Game

30 minutes

You will have needed to teach your students how to play the game before they can in turn teach another class.  If you have not done this please see my lesson on The Place Value Game

Remind your students how to play the game and enforce that they are going to be teaching another student who has never played before how to play the game.  And they are to include question about moving digits from one place to another. 

Also let your students in on a little secret.  When you taught the lesson you followed these instructions. 

If the digit in the tens column is moved to the hundreds, how much more is it worth?   Keep this question to only moving up to the next place until your students can say 10 times more.  Then proceed to moving down and 10 times less or 1/10.  

They are to do the same but only change when they feel their partner is ready.  This has an amazing influence over your students.  They really start to think about - does my partner understand and if they don't what can I do to help. 

Here are the rules again:

  • Each person gets a turn rolling the dice – either one person rolls for 9 straight times or take turns for each roll.
  • You cannot erase or change a number once it is written.
  • You must read your number out loud to your partner. (MP6) 
  • You must decide whose number is bigger. 
  • You must ask your partner “If the digit in the _____ column is moved to the ______ how has its value changed. (5.NBT.A.1)

You may want to have these posted. 

 Students playing the game.  Sorry no pictures of the cute little buddies - permission slip stuff. 

Here is an example of one student's work with their little buddy. 


Student Reflection

10 minutes

This is such a rich opportunity for my students to work with their buddies.  Before buddies leave I ask them to tell their partners one they they learned and one thing they enjoyed.  My students just beam during this part and they work really hard to give their buddies a great complement.

When the buddies are gone gather your students around them and ask a number of reflection questions.  I typically let three to five students respond to a question - depending on the amount of students raising their hands.  If a lot want to respond I will have them share first with a partner and then have the partner share out. 

I ask questions such as:

What did you learn about place value that you didn't know before?


Was their something you had to do to help your buddy with the game?

Why do you think you had to do that?

How was it working with a cooperative buddy or a not so cooperative buddy?

If your buddy was cooperative do you think they were having fun and understanding the game?

If your buddy was not cooperative what did you do to help them stay on task? 


I think my students enjoy reflecting on how they taught and the different ways they had to try to keep their buddies interested the most.  I tie their answers to the basic problem solving strategies and appropriate behavior. It is a web we weave to build our students knowledge.