First comes counting, then comes adding. The next stop? Place value! Learn how to teach tens and ones to Kindergarten.
What Is Tens and Ones Place Value?
We have 10 digits: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9. These ten digits can be arranged in different sequences to stand for different values. For example, in the number 15, the digit 5 has a value of 5 ones. By contrast, in the number 50, the digit 5 has a value of 5 tens. This is because of place value. The value of the number 5 depends on its place in the number.
This concept can be tricky for young learners, but it is a pivotal concept as it lays the foundation for addition and multiplication.
Fun Ways to Teach Tens and Ones to Kindergarten
Teaching place value is easy and fun when you a) make it highly visual and b) use manipulatives. Kindergarteners learn best when they incorporate all their senses. Use these activities to teach place value.
Step 1: Make Tens
Give each child a hunk of playdough (or floral foam) and ten uncooked spaghetti noodles. Use the playdough as a base and stick the spaghetti noodles in straight up. Then hand out a large pile of Cheerios.
Ask the child to count out ten Cheerios and thread them on a noodle. How many Cheerios does he have on the noodle? (10) How many groups of ten does he have? (1)
Now add 10 Cheerios to the next spaghetti noodle. Repeat the process. How many Cheerios? (20) How many tens? (2)
This activity teaches that numbers can be expressed in two ways: as a number of individuals (ones) and as a number of groups of tens (tens).
Step 2: Use Windows
Trace two index cards on the center of a piece of cardstock and cut out the rectangles so the cardstock has two “windows.” Label the window on the left “tens” and the window on the right “ones. ”
Now label two sets of 10 index cards with the digits 0-9. Set out 1 linking cube and place the index card labeled “1” in the ones window.
Ask the child, “How many is that?” (1)
Help her as necessary to make and show the numbers 2-9 by snapping on linking cubes and switching out the index cards.
When you get to the number ten, show the child how the digit 1 is placed in the tens window now. “When the 1 was in the other window it meant 1 single cube. Now that it is in the tens window it means 1 set of ten linking cubes.” Repeat with additional numbers.
Step 3: Make Your Own Manipulatives
This simple activity helps reinforce grouping. Make bundles of ten toothpicks and secure them with a rubber band. Screw ten nuts on a long bolt. Thread ten beads on half a pipe cleaner and twist to form a ring of ten.
Whatever manipulative you choose, make 10 sets of ten and keep aside some loose ones (loose beads, toothpicks, and nuts) for ones.
Step 4: Place Value Graphic
Divide a paper in half and label the left side “tens” and right side “ones. ” Write a number like 23 on a whiteboard.
Then, using your homemade place value manipulatives, have the child place the number of tens in the tens part of the paper (for example, 2 bundles of toothpicks) and the number of ones in the ones part of the paper (three individual toothpicks). Repeat with other numbers.
Step 5: Use Money
Coins are a wonderful way to touch and feel tens and ones place value. You can give your child 34 pennies and ask him to form groups of ten. How many tens can he make? (3)
Exchange those for dimes. 3 dimes + 4 pennies equals 34 cents. That is the same as saying 3 tens and 4 ones make 34.
Teaching Tens and Ones
If you want to know the secret of how to teach tens and ones to Kindergarten, this is it: make it as interactive as possible. The more they see, hear, and feel the concept, the sooner it will click.
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3 Super Tips for Teaching Place Value
Here’s the understatement of the year: teaching place value is kind of a big deal! From kindergarten through 5th grade, “Numbers and Operations in Base Ten” shows up in the common core math standards like clockwork.
The task of “understanding place value” grows in complexity every year and really ramps up starting in 3rd grade. Students are expected to learn how to “fluently add and subtract within 1000” using number-sense strategies based on place value. This 3-digit math strategy can feel uncomfortably like the big leagues for kids struggling with place value. So I’m going to share:
Before I share 3 tips, let’s build some background. Students as early as kindergarten and 1st grade come to school knowing things about two digit numbers like how to verbally count from 10 to 100 and counting objects within 15 or 20.
However, their understanding of numbers is pretty different from ours in that it’s based on a counting by ones approach. So they typically count one thing at a time and don’t readily understand the connection between a number and the groups of tens and ones.
For example, if we ask a student how many tens are in 67. They may say 6 in the tens place because they simply name the position with little understanding of it. But they may not understand that 6 represents 6 groups of ten things and 7 represents 7 single things. Understanding that a group of ten can represent a single entity is a huge shift!
Students tend to struggle because understanding place value is anything but simple. It’s all a big puzzle where three big pieces or connections should be made.
3 Key Connections to Building Place Value
The first key is understanding base-ten concepts in order to represent numbers visually. While many teachers may provide students opportunities to represent numbers using standard groupings, it’s equally as important for students to represent numbers using equivalent groupings. I consider this to be the keystone of place value.
Students should also be able to articulate numbers in their oral forms, whether they’re standard (“seventy-two”) or base-ten (“7 tens and 2 ones”).
Finally, students have to understand how to read and write numerals. Making these three connections hinges on utilizing different counting strategies in practice: counting by ones, counting by groups and singles, and counting by tens and ones.
See how all of this works together? If students miss one piece, then it would be challenging for them to have a full understanding of place-value. That’s why giving kids the right tools to understand the place value system is so important.
Here are a few tips that develop place value:
Tip #1: Use place value mats to make reading and writing numbers easier
Yes, manipulatives are great for moving students from concrete understanding to abstract. Place value mats work nicely with manipulatives by helping to drive abstract concepts home.
Help struggling learners by making learning hands-on and visual. That means using manipulatives like base-ten blocks. Base-ten blocks are the best tool on the block – pun intended. A great thing about base-ten blocks are the versatility to build whole numbers or decimals.
With the unit block representing one, allow students time to explore the relationship between the units (small block) and rods as well as the rods and a flat on a place value mat. Exploring these relationships support the 10- to- 1 relationship of place value including: 10 units equal 1 ten, 10 tens equal 1 hundred and so on.
Warning: Base ten blocks are all about relationships. Each block can represent different amounts depending on how they’re used. Don’t make your kids think that each block can ONLY represent one thing. For example, when using base ten blocks to represent decimals, the flat may represent 1 and the smallest block may represent 1 hundredth. When talking to kids, I find it easy to use the phrase: In this situation __________ represents __________.
Now let’s talk place value charts. Create simple place value charts that are reusable by including a place for hundreds, tens, and ones. This layout mimics the way the number is written from left to right. In the ones section, ensure that there are two ten-frames to promote the concept of a group of ten and eliminate the need for one-by-one counting. Ten frames also help students visualize how many more units are needed to make a complete set of ten.
Also give students time to represent a number using standard groupings and equivalent groupings. For example, the numeral 49 can be represented in standard form as 4 tens and 9 ones.
As well use equivalent groupings of 49 to show 3 tens and 19 ones. Without these types of experiences kids really struggle understanding that both values are equivalent.
Tip #2: Provide Opportunities to Count by Groups of 10’s and 100’s
You may have kids in 2nd and 3rd grade that continue to count things by ones instead of groupings things by 10. Grouping by 10’s is important because it’s mentally easier to count plus our number system is based on 10’s! Since we want to foster students ability to count by 10’s (not impose it on them) check out these 2 helpful activities.
The Crayon Counting Challenge
Gather your students in a circle. Find a collection of crayons (or any countable items ranging from 25 to 100) and spill them out in the middle of the circle. Ask students, “How could we can count these crayons in a way that’s easier than counting by ones?” Test out any of the counting suggestions that students give (ie. if they say count by 3’s then group and count the crayons by threes until you can’t make any more groups of 3).
After testing different strategies have a discussion on what worked well and what didn’t work so well. If no one suggests the idea of counting by 10’s, suggest it to the group and discuss how it worked in comparison to the other counting suggestions. Students typically discover that counting by 5’s or 10’s is the easiest method to group and count items.
The Classroom Estimation Activity
Create an estimation jar in your class. Fill a durable, clear plastic jar with 200 to 1000 items. Items like tiny erasers, beans or paper clips work well and are pretty inexpensive.
First give all students an opportunity to write down their estimates of the number of items in the jar. For example below, every student would record the number of erasers they believe are in the jar. After students arrive at their estimates have a class discussion about strategies they used to arrive at their recorded amount.
Next pour out all the items (ie. erasers) into several cups.
Group students in pairs and provide them with a cup to count and group the items 10 at a time.
After students have grouped all items into 10’s, place all of the groups in front of the class and ask the following questions:
How can we use the cups of 10 to tell how many we have altogether?
Can we make new groups using the groups of ten? What new groups can we form?
How many are in each new group?
After the class discussion provide larger containers for the new groups. For example, students may form new groups of 50 or 100 by combining 5 cups of 10 erasers into one container of 50. Make sure that you have large enough containers for the new groups (ie. 50 erasers in each new group) and label each new group.
Once all of the new groups are formed, count the hundreds, tens and ones separately. Record the total number of items (erasers) on a sheet of paper and discuss how their estimates were similar to or different from the actual number counted.
Tip #3: Use a daily place value warm-up to build confidence
Another great strategy for reinforcing place value is a daily warm-up, especially if it incorporates math talk. Since place value and base 10 understanding are the basis of our number system, it’s important that students get plenty of practice.
You’ve probably heard that people need to do something for 30 days to make it a habit. The same holds true for kids. To help your students master place value, I’ve created a 30 day warm- up routine. This routine engages your class in meaningful math discussions while building place value understanding within 1000.
Each day, project one math talk lesson onto your interactive whiteboard. Students will complete 4 daily questions. With 3 levels and 10 math talk activities included in each level, you’ll have 30 days of place value learning.
Level A: Beginner
Includes 10 math talks with:
4 basic questions
10 more and 10 less
Understanding base-ten models
Comparing the value of a given digit to another
Level B: Intermediate
Includes 10 math talks with:
4 intermediate questions
Place value reasoning
Understanding base-ten models
Adding or subtracting multiples of ten
Plus 1 additional BONUS question
Level C: Advanced
Includes 10 math talks with:
4 challenging questions
Understanding the value of a given digit
Understanding base-ten models
Applying place value understanding
Plotting numbers on number line
Plus 1 additional BONUS question
Take your student understanding of place value to the next level using this routine. Click on the image below to purchase.
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Place Value Routine
This math routine builds place value understanding in 30 days! Students answer 4 daily questions to build number sense within 1,000.
Early grade students come to school counting by ones but the shift to more efficient strategies is necessary (especially when understanding larger numbers). Spending time in the early years grouping 10’s and 100’s, representing numbers in standard and equivalent groupings as well as reading and writing numbers will definitely help cement place value understanding.
I hope these tips help you foster a strong place value foundation in your students.
Full Citation of Place Value Mat & Place Value Relational Chart – Van De Walle, J., Karp, K.S., & Bay Williams J.M. (2010). Elementary and Middle School Mathematics: Teaching Developmentally (7th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon
How to teach a child to count to 10, 20, 100
How to teach a child to count
Many children come to the first grade already with counting skills, so it is important for parents to teach them in advance. Today there are many techniques that make it interesting and fun.
Do not impose learning to count, it should be easy: in the course of daily activities or games. Count familiar objects together, gradually complicating the tasks. For example, he easily visualizes two oranges or four plates, but hardly abstract sets.
When to teach your child to count
Most experts believe that the best time to teach kids to count is 3-5 years. It is at this age that the child begins to be interested in new things and learns to establish patterns between numbers. However, everything is very individual. If the baby is actively exploring the world and is interested in mathematics earlier, you can start learning from the age of 1.5.
What methods to use to teach counting
We have collected proven methods that allow you to do this in a playful way that is interesting for the child.
Finger counting . The technique helps to understand how to teach a child to count to ten. It will be difficult for a baby to remember all the numbers at once, so you can start with five and focus on the fingers of one hand. Introduce the child to their names, then connect the second hand. You can use finger games when one disappears or two or three fingers meet together.
Use of study cards and sticks . You can lay them out one by one on the table and name the numbers, then move one part of the sticks to the right and the other to the left and ask how many sticks are in each part.
Number games . Teaching children to count can take place in a playful way. For example, the role-playing game "shop". You need to choose who will be the seller and who will be the buyer, and assign a currency. Selling or buying sweets and toys, the child will easily remember the numbers up to ten and even up to twenty.
Montessori method . It's like playing shop. You can give the child different coins, for example, a ruble, two, five, and ask him to calculate the amount or change money.
Doman technique . The author recommends using cards with red dots for counting. The color will attract the baby's attention.
Glen Doman Cards
Hundred Account Nikolai Zaitsev suggests immediately showing numbers from 0 to 99. So the child will understand how many tens and units each number makes.
Nikolai Zaitsev's cards
Polyakov's method . You will need cubes, a box with compartments according to the number of cubes and numbers. First, one cube is taken, placed in a cell and the number 1 is placed next to it. And so on up to 100.
Sergey Polyakov's Cubes
How to teach your child to count to 20
To teach your child to count to 20, use two pairs of hands - yours and his own. You can also use cubes, cards, sticks or draw dashes - whatever comes to mind. Such an account is given as easily as up to 10. At this stage, the child needs to understand the composition of the number.
How to teach a child to count up to 100
Tell your child that there are only nine tens, then name each tens: ten, twenty, thirty, and so on. Invite him to memorize 10 new digits of each ten every day. At the end of the day, ask what the child remembers and repeat what they have learned on other days. To simplify repetition, you can count the objects that are in front of you. After the child has mastered the tens, invite him to play a game: write a series of numbers with tens and skip one number in the middle. Ask your child to complete the pass.
You can also use Glenn Doman's method. First, the child needs to be shown cards with no more than five dots, then increase their number to 20, 50, and then up to 100. This method will also help train visual memory.
It is important to draw the attention of the child to the numbers from 11 to 19, as they are called differently from the rest.
How to teach your child to add and subtract
To teach a child to solve examples, visualization is needed again. Bend and bend your fingers, remove and take out sweets.
Addition and subtraction are reciprocal operations. This connection needs to be conveyed to the child. That is, to demonstrate that 2+1 = 3 is the same as 3−1 = 2 and 3−2 = 1. If the child has mastered the principle, there will be no problems with other numbers.
To teach your child to add and subtract within 20, you need a number line. For example, 5+3. We find the number 3 on the beam and take five steps to the right. You can do the same with your fingers. So you can teach to count with the transition through a dozen and without.
Actions with the transition through ten have a peculiarity: you need to know the composition of the number and the pair of numbers that together form a ten (1 and 9, 2 and 8, 3 and 7, 4 and 6, 5 and 5). For example, 7+6. Seven to ten lacks three, that is, it turns out 7 + 3 + unknown. The six gave away three to ten, which means that there are still three left. Then it turns out: 7+3+3.
How to teach a child to count in columns
Explain that in addition and subtraction, all actions are performed in digits: tens with tens, ones with ones. For example, 31 + 12: a three is added to a unit, a unit to a two.
To simplify, you can do training exercises - for example, write numbers under each other. Number 6 at the bottom, 12 at the top. It is important to explain to the child that six should be under the number 2, and not 1, as it refers to units.
Start with simple examples, where numbers add up to a number less than 10. Then you can move on to examples with a transition through ten: for example, 25 + 16. 5 + 6 add up to 11. Then we write the unit from 11 under the line, and we remember the unit as a ten. When we add the tens, we get 2 + 1 and another +1, which we kept in our heads.
In the case of subtraction, you should also start with simple examples, gradually moving on to more complex ones. For example: 25-16, in the column where there are ones, 5 less than 6, explain to the child that in this case we kind of “borrow” a unit from tens.
For convenience, you can use the symbols that are marked in blue in the figure. In the first case, a ten is added, in the second, a dot serves as a reminder of a “busy” ten.
Counting games and exercises
Build towers with a certain number of blocks to teach your child to count. Later Lego will be needed in the development of fractions.
Read to your child passages from fairy tales that contain numbers. He needs to clap as soon as he hears them.
Coloring pages with examples
You can teach your child to add and subtract through coloring pages, where an example is written in each cell, by solving which the child will recognize the color.
Board game "Strawberry paths"
There are two types of cards in the game: "Picking berries" and "Sharing berries". In the first case, you need to string a certain amount on your thread, and in the second, subtract, that is, give away. In the process, you need to count the berries and compare.
Dominoes with numbers
The principle is the same as with pictures. One domino with two numbers around the edges is laid out by the child, the parent picks up a die with one of the numbers. The one who gets rid of the dominoes first wins.