Teach Place Value To 4th Grade the Easy Way

Are you a teacher struggling to review place value to your 4th-grade students? Worry not! Teaching place value can be fun with a few simple tweaks to your lesson. In this blog post, I’m sharing a week-long process to help your students understand this important math skill. I will walk you through practical ways to teach place value to 4th Grade the easy way! So, grab your base ten blocks and let’s dive into this math concept with confidence and ease!

Plus you can grab a FREE Place Value activity at the end of the post.

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How Are You Supposed to Teach Place Value to 4th Grade?

Watching students’ struggle breaks my heart! ๐Ÿ’”

The look of shame on their faces as they watch classmates who have mastered something that they haven’t.

This rings especially true during math! Students must build on concepts from previous grade levels, but what happens when they can’t?

How in the world are you supposed to teach place value to 4th grade who are struggling?

Not only that, but how do you keep the 4th graders who are on track from getting bored?

If you’ve asked any of these questions, you’re in the right place!

Related Post: Fun Ways to Teach Place Value to 3rd Grade

What Place Value Math Do 4th Graders Need to Know?

Before we dive into our place value lesson, let’s look at the concepts our students need for this grade level:

  • Understanding the value of each digit as 10x the number to the right
  • Standard vs. Expanded Form
  • Solving place value word problems
  • Reading and writing numbers up to the millions place
  • Rounding numbers based on their place value
  • Estimating sums also based on place value

Due to these standards, I have a week-long review process to help you effectively teach place value to 4th grade. These ideas work for whole-class and small group instruction.

Not only that, but it will allow students who already know these concepts to review them in a fun way, while also helping those who are struggling.

Day 1: Start with Place Value Models

To kick off our lesson, I recommend reviewing or introducing base ten models to your kiddos. Why? Because place value is an abstract concept, so 4th graders need concrete examples of the numbers.

Image Courtesy of Amazon

I love using the “I Do, We Do, You Do” teaching process. For this method, you will begin with a place value chart or slideshow displaying visuals of the numbers. (I Do.)

Just be sure that your anchor chart, poster, or slideshow has numbers going up to the hundred-thousands and millions place. Then students will come to the board to label digits with their correct value. (We do.)

It is also helpful if you can include some representations of decimals with this lesson warm-up activity, which provides another visual helping 4th graders see the value of that digit.

Working with hands-on math manipulatives like base-ten blocks also helps students grasp the abstract-to-concrete concept. (You do.)

But when you’re on a time crunch OR you don’t have a whole-class set of models to work with, you can use task cards that have the models representing different numbers. Like these ๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿพ

This task card set has base ten models up to the millions place + a SCOOT template to teach place value to 4th grade. Click the image to see more.

Using a combination of hands-on base ten blocks with mats + task cards that have base ten models on them gives students two different ways to practice this skill.

The whole point of doing this is to expose your students to representations of the numbers and their values. Plus, your students get practice with writing numbers up to the millions place.

Which is why this makes an effective lesson warm-up or bell-ringer activity. In addition to that, you can use these place value task cards with models for math centers.

Having versatile math manipulatives like these really helps for whole group or small group math lessons. Click the image to see more.

Day 2: Review Number Sense with Place Value Riddles

The second step to teach place value to 4th grade requires testing their number sense skills. Testing doesn’t mean it has to be an actual test. In fact, formative assessments can be fun and engaging!

A great example of this is using math riddles that require critical thinking skills to solve. Here are my top reasons to use riddles on Day 2:

  • They prep students for one and two-step place value word problems that will be introduced later.
  • Students really get a kick out of solving each riddle.
  • The sense of mystery with riddles makes them intriguing and fun while also helping with number sense.

Can your students solve the math riddle in this picture? Place value riddles challenge 4th graders in a fun way! Everything you see in this picture comes in one set. Click the image for more details.

In addition to all the points above, you can practice number sense with riddles in a whole-class lesson or by breaking students in small groups to work with a partner. As they work together to solve each riddle, they are engaging in essential math talk that further builds their place value understanding.

Day 3: Practice Ordering Numbers

Now that you’ve reviewed models and number sense, it’s time to practice ordering numbers. This is super important to teach place value to 4th grade since they need to convert and compare numbers in multiple ways.

One really fun hands-on way to do this is to write numbers on magnetic sentence strips. Once you have these set up, have students come to the board 2-at-a-time to put them in descending or ascending order. Each pair of students will compete to see who can order the numbers the fastest.

If this level of competition is too stressful for your kiddos, then they can complete a similar task independently at their seats.

I also like using ordering numbers place value task cards in a SCOOT game for this same skill.

This printable and digital ordering numbers place value set gives 4th graders practice to help them master this skill.

What makes using these task cards even better is that they have real-world word problems included that involve ordering numbers in order to solve the word problem.

To really help you prepare for this Day 3 task, it helps to have a way to display numbers using place value charts on the board.

Image Courtesy of Amazon

Colorful flip charts like these also help big time to teach place value to 4th grade! The color-coded aspect adds extra visualization to help kids who need a little boost with this skill.

Not only that, but I also like to add in the bonus skill of rounding each number up or down. So, as we compare numbers, I will say something like: “what is this number rounded to the nearest ten-thousands place?

Including rounding with ordering numbers gives your students a chance to review this much-needed skill.

Related Post: Useful Math Supplies For Teachers That You Will Love

Day 4: Use Math Centers to Practice Several Place Value Skills

The final way to teach place value to 4th grade involves using math centers that practice all the different concepts they’ve learned so far. Not only do math centers allow for hands-on learning, but they also provide a fun and engaging environment for students to work on several place value skills at once.

Image Courtesy of Amazon

Rotating your small group of students from center-to-center also allows you to see which skills students may be struggling with. For example, I would set my place value stations something like this:

  • Building numbers using place value manipulatives–Center 1 for 15 minutes
  • Solving simple place value riddles or word problems–Station 2 for 15 minutes
  • Ordering numbers–Math Center 3 for 15 minutes
  • Rounding numbers–Station 4 for 15 minutes

Of course, you choose how many stations and how much time for each one based on your math block. Just know that in order to teach place value to 4th grade effectively, they need time to practice.

So, if you need to stretch all of these activities beyond one week of teaching/ review, then that’s perfectly normal.

Day 5: Complete Formal Place Value Assessments

To wrap up our place value review week, I would assign a quiz testing my students’ growth for that week.

One way to ensure that all students have a firm understanding of each concept, is by with formal place value assessments. These assessments can help identify studentโ€™s strengths and weaknesses, allowing you to adjust your instruction and provide targeted support.

Assessments may include questions such as:

  • identifying the value of a specific digit in a number
  • comparing two numbers AND ordering numbers from least to greatest
  • rounding numbers, etc.

A Post For You: 10 Tips and Ideas for Math Test Prep in Upper Elementary

By providing students with a comprehensive assessment, you can ensure that all students have the necessary skills to understand place value. Additionally, you can use the results of the assessment to create lesson plans that are tailored to the needs of your class.

With the help of self-checking assessments, you can quickly be sure that your students have a strong understanding of place value and are prepared for the next steps with this math skill.

Activities to Teach Place Value to 4th Grade

This full week of place value activities works well for students at all levels of understanding. Whether you have 4th graders who are really struggling to students who are ready to move on, there’s something in this daily line-up that addresses each skill.

Not only that, but I have this bonus activity to add to this step-by-step process:

These fun color-by-code worksheets include other 4th grade place value skills like standard vs. expanded form, as well as more practice with rounding.

By adding this to your lesson plans, you have a no-prep place value activity that’s engaging for your kiddos. ๐Ÿค—

And everything from this post comes in a convenient bundle! It includes everything shown in this post. Now you can incorporate interesting 4th grade place value activities into your class with ease.

Click the image to grab the bundle!

In addition to that, I don’t want you to forget about your freebie:

In conclusion, teaching place value to fourth graders can seem like an intimidating task. However, with the right strategies and materials, it can be much more manageable. Starting with the basics and reviewing regularly is critical for your students to understand the concept of place value. With practice and repetition, you can be sure that your fourth graders will gain a deeper understanding of this important mathematical skill.

Tanya G Marshall The Butterfly Teacher Transforming learning for all students

2 Responses

  1. I found this article on teaching place value to 4th graders to be a great resource for educators. The examples and activities provided are creative and engaging, and are sure to help students understand this foundational mathematical concept. Thank you, Butterfly Teacher, for sharing your expertise on this important topic!

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