Place Value

Place value is a complicated concept, which interweaves with other number relationships such as teen numbers, algorithms, bonds of 10, part part whole, and others. Here we’ll look at grade 1 specific issues.

Students in grade 1 need to group a variety of materials in groups of 10. This can include popsicle sticks, beans, cubes, bread tags – pretty much anything you have a lot of that’s a reasonable size. One mistake is to use commercial base 10 materials in the early grades – students need to construct groups of 10 themselves before they can see the meaning in the pre grouped materials. Base 10 materials are generally suitable for grades 2 and 3.

You also see many materials using the language ‘tens’ and ‘ones’, which is actually very confusing for students and clashes with the concept of one and ten that they have constructed so far. ‘Groups of 10’ and ‘Singles’ is preferred.


Grouping Materials
Some general instructions on having students group materials.
Base 10 Mat
This mat is good for placing groups of 10 and singles on as students work with their grouped materials and construct their sense of place value.


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