Helping Students Master Decimal Place Value

So, I’ve taught fifth grade for 9 years now, and one topic that consistently baffles my struggling students is that of the decimal place value positions.

There are some things they just can’t seem to wrap their minds around…

…why isn’t there a oneths place?

….why do the positions’ names sound like bigger numbers as you go toward the right?

….just what the heck is a thousandth?

I’ve learned that for students who struggle with a basic sense of place value, it is so important to memorize the names of the place value positions. 

We need to keep working to develop their foundation, but in the meantime, as the class moves on, these students are sometimes flailing to just name a digit from the right position, grasp an understanding of how to round because they don’t know the names of the positions, and just can’t seem to get word form nailed down.

This is why I created my freebie, Place Value Position Build-a-Number Game. 

In this game, students spin a paper clip on two spin boards. First for the digit, and next for the place value position.then, they fill the digit in to the correct place and repeat until the number is complete.

For the struggling stufent, a place value chart can be a great reference tool until they no longer rely on it. Kids LOVE the game and love trying to win the round by creating the highest number. Little do they realize they are comparing decimals while they’re at it (don’t you love sneaky teacher tricks like that?)!

Check the game out, and use it to help reinforce place value and bring a little fun into the Math classroom!


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