• Rachel Tidd

Making And Using Place Value Sticks



We have recently been enjoying learning and playing with these place value sticks! They are super easy and cheap to make, which in my book is a bonus! My youngest who turns 5 this month totally caught on to the concept that a whole bundle is worth ten and the single are worth one when we got them out the other day. We worked inside on this particular day! I really liked his strategy of putting the ten bundle right on the one in the tens place and the ones on top of the number in the ones place!



He really needs to move to learn so we walked and said the teen numbers as we went.



I recommend making and using these stick bundles in all of my Wild Math Curriculum Guides K-3. In kindergarten you start out by introducing the ideas of place value and tens and ones, by 2nd and 3rd grade you are working with much bigger numbers and can use the stick bundles to teach regrouping when adding and subtracting large numbers. If you are short of time or sticks popsicle sticks make a great substitute!

We have the plastic place value/base ten blocks, but honestly these are just as effective! These are also more flexible as you can use the sticks in other ways after your child has learned place value that year!




This isn't a fantastic photo, (I never claim to be a photographer! I just take pictures to show ideas!) but it does show how you can use the sticks in grades 2 and 3 to learn addition and subtraction with and without regrouping (borrowing). The picture shows 25+12. Have the child physically add the ones in 12 to the 5 in 25, then place the 7 underneath them in the ones place. You might want to place a large stick or draw the line under the 2 numbers. Then have them add all the 10s in this case, place all 3 tens together under the line. Now you have the answer 37. If you were to add a number that required regrouping you might say, “Do I have enough to make another bundle of ten? Yes? Great! We need to put that in the tens place column.” Talking through problems with a child or as you are doing math in your day to day life is great modeling of the thinking process.


I also like asking questions like these! If you like them there are more for grade 1-2 and 3-4 at the bottom of this page and other place value activities as well.


You can play a version of war with these place value sticks as well! Make cards with the numbers 1-100 or what ever number range you are working with. Shuffle and deal half the deck to each player. Have them each flip one card over and build the number with place value bundles in front of them. Have the children compare the numbers to see which number is bigger. This is a great game for K-1st grades!


I also posted this fab way to use place value sticks/blocks on a 100 chart!


There are so many fun ways to use these sticks! Let me know how you are using them! Post on IG or FB with #wildmath and tag me @wildmathcurriculum on IG or @wildmath on FB! Stay tuned for the release of Wild Math's First Grade Curriculum Guide soon!

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Email:  wildmathcurriculum@gmail.com

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