Dear Family, your Operation Maths guide to Place Value

Dear Family, your Operation Maths guide to Place Value

Dear Family, given below is a brief guide to understanding the topic of place value as well as some practical suggestions as to how you might support your children’s understanding at home. Also below, are a series of links to digital resources that will help both the children, and you, learn more about place value. The digital resources are organised according to approximate class level:

Junior Infants to Second Class
You can also find class specific tips at the back of your child’s Operation Maths At Home book, for infants to second class, and in the Operation Maths Dear Family letters for third to sixth class.

Understanding Place Value

Place value is about exploring the base-ten number system we use: how our numbers are made up of digits, each of which represent different values, depending on their position or place in the number. In the senior classes the children will explore place value in numbers with a decimal point, as well as numbers without a decimal point (whole numbers).

No matter how large a number is, you really only need to know how to read a three-digit number, to be able to read any size number. This is because the digits are always organised in groups of three, as you can see in the image below. However, we do also need to know the significance of the commas. For example, three (3) million, six hundred and twenty-three (623) thousand, nine hundred and fifteen (915) = 3,623,915: the comma closest to the units is read as thousand, the next comma is read as million, etc.

At its most basic level, central to understanding our place value system, is to recognise that 10 single items or units or ones, can be grouped together to make a ten; that 10 tens can be grouped together to make a hundred; that 10 hundreds can be grouped together to make a thousand etc. In school, the children have lots of different materials that they can group together, or exchange, such as cubes, bundles of sticks, counters on ten frames and place value discs. At home, the children could bundle cotton buds or cocktail sticks or trading cards into groups of tens and fasten them with an elastic, or group identical pieces of lego into sticks of ten, or count out beads or buttons or pieces of pasta into small containers or bags as groups of tens.

Example of materials that might be used in school: place value discs, bundling sticks and base ten blocks

In school, the type of place value learning experiences that the children have, are very similar at every class level; the main difference is that each class level will have different number limits. In school, we expect that by the end of first class, most children will understand place value in numbers up to 99, in second class up to 199, in third class up to 999, in fourth class up to 9,999, in fifth class up to 99,999 and in sixth class there is no limit … millions, billions, trillions even!

That is not to say that you should limit your child to the number limit for his/her class level. In reality, children will encounter much larger numbers in the real world, than they will encounter in their maths book, so feel free to throw bigger numbers at them. But, bear in mind that, even if a child can read or say a complicated number, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they understand its place value.

Practical Suggestions for Supporting Children

  • Ask your child to read out loud any numbers they meet around your home and in the wider environment, e.g. numbers on signposts, car registrations, the number of pieces in a jigsaw, page numbers on catalogues, the numbers on houses or hotel rooms, larger numbers on fact books e.g. Guinness Book of World Records, recorded times for races, etc.
  • Correct language: When you are talking about numbers be careful to use the correct language e.g. for 91,856 say ‘ninety one thousand, eight hundred and fifty six’ not ‘nine-one-eight-five-six’ and for 23.95 say ‘twenty three point nine five’.
  • Zero does not equal ‘oh’! It’s an unfortunate convention, but the way we talk about numbers every day can often be mathematically incorrect and/or misleading. For example, when calling out a mobile number, that starts with 08….. we will likely say ‘oh eight‘…… Yet 0 is a digit called zero, whereas O or ‘oh’ is a letter of the alphabet and not a number at all! So, when verbalising numbers with zero, try to get into the habit of saying ‘zero’ instead of ‘oh’.
  • Numbers that end in ‘-teen’ or ‘-ty’ can be difficult for some children. In particular, some children can have difficulty hearing the difference between numbers ending in ‘-teen’ and ‘-ty’ when they are spoken out loud, e.g. ‘fifty’ (50) sounds very like ‘fifteen’ (15) when spoken, yet their values are very different. Try to say these type of numbers clearly, and encourage your child to say them clearly also, so that they appreciate the difference between these similar-sounding numbers.
  • Rounding large or awkward numbers is something we do to make them easier to say or report. For example, if there was 91,856 people at a concert or a match, the media might report that there was just over ninety thousand or there was almost ninety two thousand people in attendance. When you encounter numbers in the media, encourage your child to round them; ask him/her what the number would be roughly/approximately. If you come across a number that has already been rounded, together you could guess/speculate as to what the exact number might have been.
  • Make place value fun!
    • Play counting games on car journeys, e.g. each child in the car picks a colour and counts every car of that colour that they see or meet on the road. The winner is the person who hits the highest number before the driver’s patience wears out!
    • Race to the page! Challenge your child to try to find certain page numbers, in books with plenty of pages, as quickly as they can. Use a dictionary or other reference book, or even an Argos catalogue and call out a page number, for example ‘three hundred and ninety’ and see how quickly that page can be found. If you have more than one copy of a suitable big book or catalogue, two players can race against each other.
    • Play some simple place value games using dice or playing cards
    • Play any of the online interactive games below

Digital Resources for First and Second Classes

Intro to place value (video) | Tens | Khan AcademyKhan Academy – Intro to Place Value: this video and the videos that follow, explore place value in 2-digit numbers and then answer the practice questions. You can also register for a free Khan Academy account to record your progress and explore other areas of Grade 1 maths.


Number Sense with the Hundred Chart || Happy Numbers - YouTube Happy Numbers – Place Value Activities: A series of lessons and activities; do Module 4 and 5.


Counting by 1 – Math VisualsMaths Visuals – Counting by one: Watch any of the videos and count out loud the numbers and images that are shown. Do you spot any patterns?


Counting Above 100 – Math VisualsMaths Visuals – Counting above 100: Watch any of the videos and count out loud the numbers and images that are shown. Do you spot any patterns?


Place Value Concepts – Math VisualsMaths Visuals – Place Value Concepts: Watch any of the videos and count out loud the numbers and images that are shown. Do you spot any patterns?


Place Value Grouping Video for 1st and 2nd Grade - YouTubePlace Value Grouping Video: Watch a video of how ones (units) can be grouped into tens, to make various numbers.


Candy machine | math 😃 first-grade math lessons - YouTubeCandy Machine: Help make up the orders of candy sticks by using bundles of tens and ones


Dienes - Identify and Represent Numbers - MathsframeDienes Penalty Shoot Out: Identify the number of counters and create numbers using Dienes blocks (aka Base Ten Blocks). Choose game mode to earn penalty chances, and then numbers up to 20, 50 or 100.


New game – Place Value Basketball | The Topmarks BlogPlace Value Basketball: Select the correct number to match the image. Work your way up through the various options/levels.


LifeguardsLifeguards: Click and drag into the place value grid, the correct number of place value discs to make up the given number. Choose between 0-50 or 0-100 options. You can also play a similar game called Shark Numbers


Maths Goalie - MathsframeMaths Goalie – Reading numbers:  Read the numbers in word form and then input the same number but in standard form. Choose reading numbers, and then number to 20 or 100.


Place Value Charts Update | The Topmarks BlogPlace Value Charts: Make a given number by combining the parts that make up the number. Select practice and then T O (Tens and Ones) in either column.


Flash Interactive | Fuel the BrainNumber Flash: How quickly can you recognise the number? Choose Base Ten or Multiple Ten Frames to identify 2-digit numbers (requires Adobe Flash Player).


Rocket Rounding – head to the launchpad of a new game! | The ...

Rocket Rounding: A multiple choice game involving rounding numbers: start with rounding numbers up to 99 and with the easier option of having a number line and then try to play the other more difficult option, no number line.


Declan's Fun Facts!: very cool battle ship equivalent fractions on ...Battleship Numberline: Can you blow up the enemy submarines? This game starts very easy, where you must click the correct number on the number line, but then the game progresses in difficulty as the player must work out where a given number would be placed on the blank number line. Choose the whole number game.


Interactive Math Lesson | Place Value (Up to 99) Scroll down to place value to do any of the activities. For children at the beginning of first class try Place Value up to 20, Base Ten blocks up to 20 and Count to 100 instead. There are some more advanced activities in the second grade section.


SplashLearn for Android Devices Released - IssueWireSplash Learn – Place Value: An assortment of place value games organised according to US grade levels; start with the grade below your current class level i.e. for first class pupil’s start with Kindergarten games and for second class pupils start with first grade games.


IXL | Maths and English PracticePlace Value: a selection of games from ixl.com. You can do a number of free quizzes each day without having a subscription. (Please note that the class levels given do not always align accurately with the content of the Irish Primary Curriculum) 

Digital Resources for Third and Fourth Classes

Intro to place value (video) | Hundreds | Khan AcademyKhan Academy – Place Value: in this video and the videos that follow, explore place value in 3-digit numbers and then answer the practice questions (says Grade 2, but is suitable for 3rd class). Fourth class student can access similar activities for 4-digit numbers and larger here. You can also register for a free Khan Academy account to record your progress and explore other topics.


Number Sense with the Hundred Chart || Happy Numbers - YouTube Happy Numbers – Place Value Activities: A series of lessons and activities; for numbers up to 1,000 do Module 3. For rounding to the nearest ten and hundred do Module 2 here.


Place Value Lesson - 1st and 2nd Grade Math - YouTubePlace Value House: video lesson that explores hundreds, tens and ones (units), suitable for 3rd class.


Expanded Form Video - 1st and 2nd Grade Math - YouTubeExpanded Form: A video that introduces expanded form and explains how we can expand numbers to see the parts that make it, suitable for 3rd class.


Dienes - Identify and Represent Numbers - MathsframeDienes Penalty Shoot Out: Identify the number of counters and create numbers using Dienes blocks (aka Base Ten Blocks). Choose game mode to earn penalty chances, and then numbers up to 1,000 or 5,000.


New game – Place Value Basketball | The Topmarks BlogPlace Value Basketball: Select the correct number to match the image. Work your way up through the various options/levels.


LifeguardsLifeguards: Click and drag into the place value grid, the correct number of place value discs to make up the given number. Choose between 0-500 or 0-1,000 options. You can also play a similar game called Shark Numbers


Maths Goalie - MathsframeMaths Goalie – Reading numbers:  Read the numbers in word form and then input the same number but in standard form. Choose reading numbers, and then number to 1,000 or 10,000.


Place Value Charts Update | The Topmarks BlogPlace Value Charts: Make a given number by combining the parts that make up the number. Select practice and then either H T O (for third class) or Th H T O (for fourth class) in either column.


Rocket Rounding – head to the launchpad of a new game! | The ...

Rocket Rounding: A multiple choice game involving rounding numbers to the nearest 10 or 100, up to 999 or 9,999. Start with the easier option of having a number line and then try to play the other more difficult option, no number line.


Declan's Fun Facts!: very cool battle ship equivalent fractions on ...Battleship Numberline: Can you blow up the enemy submarines? This game starts very easy, where you must click the correct number on the number line, but then the game progresses in difficulty as the player must work out where a given number would be placed on the blank number line. Choose the whole number game.


Interactive Math Lesson | Place Value (Up to 99)I Know It! – Place Value: Scroll down to place value to do any of the activities with suitable number limits. There are some more advanced activities in the third grade section.


SplashLearn for Android Devices Released - IssueWireSplash Learn – Place Value: An assortment of place value games organised according to US grade levels; start with the grade below your current class level i.e. for third class pupil’s start with second grade games and for fourth class pupils start with third grade games.


Place Value Games Online - Math Activities For 2nd & 3rd GradePlace Value Games: An assortment of place value games using numbers of various sizes. Third class pupils should start with games up to 999 (three-digit numbers) and fourth class should start with games up to 9,999 (four-digit numbers)


ThatQuiz.org | Amazing automatic quiz generator! Awesome fun ...

That Quiz – Place Value: This quiz has lots of options, on the left hand side, that can be changed to suit the ability of the child. In place value, the lowest level is 3. Each time do the set 10 questions, if you get 10 or 9 correct, go up a level; if not stay at that level. There are lots of different types of activities: For Identification (it automatically starts on this) you must identify the value of certain digits; other options are conversions, rounding and sums.


IXL | Maths and English Practice

Place Value: a selection of games from ixl.com. You can do a number of free quizzes each day without having a subscription. (Please note that the class levels given do not always align accurately with the content of the Irish Primary Curriculum) 

Digital Resources for Fifth and Sixth Classes

Place value | 4th grade | Math | Khan AcademyKhan Academy – Place Value: in this video and the videos that follow, learn about place value in larger numbers and then answer the practice questions. You can also access similar activities for decimal numbers here. If you register for a free Khan Academy account, you can record your progress and explore other topics.


Grade 5 Math - Online Enrichment ActivitiesHappy Numbers – Place Value: A series of interactive lessons and activities on numbers up to one million. Do Module 1 Topic A, B and C


How big is a billion? (No, it's bigger than that!) - YouTubeHow big is a billion? It is very difficult to visualise the size of a million, or a billion, of anything. This video demonstrates the length of a thousand, a million, and a billion coins if they were placed top to bottom.


Maths Goalie - MathsframeMaths Goalie – Reading numbers:  Read the numbers in word form and then input the same number but in standard form. Choose reading numbers, and then numbers to 1,000,000 or 10,000,000.


Place Value Charts Update | The Topmarks BlogPlace Value Charts: Make a given number by combining the parts that make up the number. Select practice and then either whole numbers or decimal numbers, in either column.


Rocket Rounding – head to the launchpad of a new game! | The ...

Rocket Rounding: A multiple choice game involving rounding numbers, using whole numbers or decimal numbers. Start with the easier option of having a number line and then try to play the other more difficult option, no number line.


Declan's Fun Facts!: very cool battle ship equivalent fractions on ...Battleship Numberline: Can you blow up the enemy submarines? This game starts very easy, where you must click the correct number on the number line, but then the game progresses in difficulty as the player must work out where a given number would be placed on the blank number line. Choose the whole number or decimals game.


Who wants to be a Hundredaire? Game show-like quiz based on place value.


Interactive Math Lesson | Place Value (Up to 99)I Know It! – Place Value: Scroll down to place value to do any of the activities with suitable number limits. There are some more advanced activities in the fourth grade section.


SplashLearn for Android Devices Released - IssueWireSplash Learn – Place Value: An assortment of place value games organised according to US grade levels; start with the grade below your current class level i.e. for fifth class pupil’s start with fourth grade games and for sixth class pupils start with fifth grade games.


Place Value Games Online - Math Activities For 2nd & 3rd Grade

Place Value Games: An assortment of place value games using numbers of various sizes. Fifth class pupils should start with games up to 99,999 (five-digit numbers) and sixth class should start with games above this. There are similar games based on decimal numbers accessible here.


ThatQuiz.org | Amazing automatic quiz generator! Awesome fun ...

That Quiz – Place Value: This quiz has lots of options, on the left hand side, that can be changed to suit the ability of the child. In place value, the lowest level is 3. Each time do the set 10 questions, if you get 10 or 9 correct, go up a level; if not stay at that level. There are lots of different types of activities: For Identification (it automatically starts on this) you must identify the value of certain digits; other options are conversions, rounding and sums. Sixth class pupils looking for a challenge could try scientific notation.


IXL | Maths and English Practice

Place Value: a selection of games from ixl.com. You can do a number of free quizzes each day without having a subscription. (Please note that the class levels given do not always align accurately with the content of the Irish Primary Curriculum) 


Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Our Office

Click to open a larger map

Office Hours
Monday - Friday
8:45am - 4:45pm
Lunch 1:00pm - 1:45pm