Mastering Place Value – Number Sense

Children of all ages need to develop a quality known as number sense.  Number sense involves understanding how numbers relate to each other.  One important aspect of number sense is mastering place value.

Place Value Defined

Place value is breaking down each digit in a number into its true value.  For example, the number 273 has a 2 in the hundreds place, a 7 in the tens place, and a 3 in the ones place.  Therefore the 2 is worth 200, the 7 is worth 70, and the 3 is worth 3.  200 + 70 + 3 equals 273, our original number.  Understanding place value will be a great help to your child as they go on to master other math concepts like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

Place Value Chart

In order to understand place value, a child must be familiar with the place value chart.  While a child may not be required to memorize the chart, memorizing it will make place value much simpler. The link above has a color coded place value chart that you can download and print for your child to use.

Place Value Basics

There are three ways to write numbers using place value.  You can write numbers in standard form, expanded form, and word form.  We will use the number 46,279 as an example for each type.

  • Standard form – This is the normal way we write numbers every day. While it is what children are most familiar with, you may need to reinforce calling it standard form until they connect the term with way of writing numbers. (46,279 is already written in standard form.)
  • Expanded form – This breaks down the number into the value of each digit and then adds the values together.  The value of each digit is simply what the number is worth. For example the value of the 2 above is 200. (Expanded form for 46,279 would be 40,000 + 6,000 + 200 + 70 + 9.)
  • Word form – Writing the number out in words is called word form.  While this sounds difficult, a child just has to write the number exactly how they would read it. (46,279 would be read and written as forty-six thousand, two hundred seventy-nine.)

Place Value Practice

Practicing place value is easy to do at home. You can write out any number and have your child tell you what place each digit is in.  Then have your child write that number in expanded form and word form.  Start with simple numbers and move up to larger numbers as your child achieves mastery.

Practicing place value increases your child’s number sense.  It will allow them to do well in many other areas of math also.  The next post on number sense will deal specifically with learning number words.

What tricks do you have to help your child learn place value?

Check Smart Tutor Elementary Math Curriculum and Free Math Games

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