Hands-On Place Value

Some of my best ideas happen very spur of the moment.  I'm sure since you are all teachers, you know exactly what I mean.  You have one thing in your plan book and then your students ask a question and everything shifts instantly.  I think out of all the lessons I plan, those are my favorite.

This was one of those lessons.  We were reviewing our morning work and I was trying to explain the difference between rods and units and how understanding tens and ones will help when adding two-digit numbers.  I realized that it wasn't sticking with half the class, so I got out our foam rods and units.

Fortunately, last year I had bagged them up so that each student could get a bag and it would have enough pieces for any problem from 1 to 99.  If you haven't done this, it is a must.  It saves SO much time and saving time definitely helps with classroom management.

After I passed out the bags, we went over our rules.  There aren't many, but it's important to tell your kids up front what your expectations are.
1. No drawing pictures with the markers. I do allow them at the end if they have followed the directions.

2. No talking.  I like to do what I call hotdog/hamburger.  Every other student is a hotdog or a hamburger.  This keeps kids from copying the kid next to them.  However, it also means we have to be quiet or we don't hear our numbers.

That's it - two rules.  However, if they break the rules, I take their items away and they have to sit and watch or write their spelling words two times before they can rejoin.  It usually only takes one or two students losing the privilege and everyone else falls in line.

Here are some pictures I took during our lesson.  My lower students started by just writing the number and showing me in rods and units.  My higher students had to also show me the answer in expanded form.

So, the next time you need a quick hands-on math activity or lesson, this is an easy one that requires very little planning and should use materials you already have in your classroom.

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