Introduction to Place Value

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Students will be able to understand that numbers are made up of "tens" and "ones".

Big Idea

Kindergartners love sharing their knowledge. In this place value lesson, students use base 10 blocks to count aloud for the class, sharing numbers the teacher has composed.

Background Information

5 minutes

Each day during calendar, my classroom counts our days in school. We hit the 100th day of school in late February! I have a pocket chart displayed near the calendar. The chart has pockets for the hundreds, tens, and ones place. To count the days, we use red, plastic straws. I have included a picture of what this looks like. 

Once we have 10 straws or "ones", the class refers to it as a bundle. Each time we reach a bundle the classroom sings a song I have listed below. I take the ten straws, rubber band them together into a bundle, and move them to the "tens" pocket.

When we hit the 100th day of school we followed the same procedure. Bundling the 10 "tens" together, and moving it to the hundreds place.

I found this song on mathwire. I actually printed it off and keep it posted next to the place value pocket chart.

Bundle Song 

Tune: Dreidel Song 

Bundle of Ten: 

Bundle, bundle, bundle

We made a group of ten.

Move them to the tens place

And now we start again.

Bundle of One Hundred:

Bundle, bundle, bundle,

A hundred is ten tens,

Move them to the hundreds place

And now we start again.


20 minutes

To begin this lesson, I gather students in front of the white board. I display a handful of "ones" cubes. I explain to my students that these "ones" cubes represent the same as the "ones" straws we use at calendar. I am hoping to draw on some prior knowledge and familiarity by talking about our calendar routine.

I put 10 of the "ones" cubes out. We count them together. Some of my students are able to make connections at this point and share aloud, "That is a bundle!" I explain that yes, we have made a bundle. At this point I take out the "tens" stick. We count and agree that the "tens" stick has 10 "ones". It is important to give students an opportunity to create ten "ones", and place it next to the "ten" stick. This creates context for visual and tactile learners. 

I then ask my students if they can help me with some counting. I display various numbers using the manipulatives, and call on students to count the number. I give each student a turn counting the number I have displayed. They enjoy getting a chance to come up to the board, and this gives me an opportunity to see who is struggling. For example, I display 2 "tens" sticks and 3 "ones" cubes, which equals 23. I have included a student video of this activity.

Once each child has had a chance, our math lesson for the day is done. This lesson is meant to be an introduction, and I do not want to overwhelm my students.