Place Value Power of Ten

Supercharging Student Engagement: The “Place Value Power of Ten” Activity

Hello fellow educators! Today, I bring you a deep-dive into a highly engaging and educational activity that I’ve recently introduced into my classroom – the “Place Value Power of Ten”. This unique game-play activity combines mathematical rigor with interactive fun to make a standout addition to your teaching arsenal. I have witnessed firsthand the transformative power of this activity in creating an inclusive, stimulating, and exciting learning environment.

Place Value Power of Ten = Poster/Anchor Chart with Cards for Students

Understanding the Power of Ten

Before we delve into the activity, it’s important to understand the concept behind it. Place values and the power of ten are fundamental concepts in mathematics, especially in the teaching and learning of number sense, numeration, and numerical operations. These are fundamental principles that students must grasp to confidently navigate the world of mathematics.

In essence, the power of ten underpins the decimal number system, which is the cornerstone of our everyday number use. With every move to the left on the place value chart, a digit’s value increases tenfold – hence, the ‘power of ten.’

The Activity: Place Value Power of Ten

The Place Value Power of Ten activity beautifully demonstrates this concept, allowing students to engage with the material in a dynamic, hands-on way. By incorporating this activity, we aim to transform abstract numerical notions into concrete, tangible experiences for our students.


To conduct this activity, you’ll need the following:

  1. The Place Value Power of Ten Poster/Anchor Chart
  2. Place Value Blocks or Base Ten Blocks
  3. Place Value Mats
Activity Set-up:
  1. Begin by introducing the Place Value Power of Ten poster/anchor chart. This will serve as a visual reference throughout the activity and is perfect for your Math Vocabulary board.
  2. Arrange the students into groups of 4 or 5. Each group will need a set of place value blocks and a place value mat.

Gameplay Instructions:

  1. Assign each student a place value: ones, tens, hundreds, and so on.
  2. Each student starts with a designated number of blocks that correspond to their place value. For example, a student assigned ‘tens’ might begin with two ‘ten’ blocks.
  3. The objective of the game is to reach the next place value. When a student accumulates ten blocks, they must ‘exchange’ them with the student responsible for the next place value. For example, if a ‘ones’ student accumulates ten ‘one’ blocks, they exchange them with the ‘tens’ student for a ‘ten’ block.
  4. The game continues in this manner, with students exchanging blocks as they accumulate ten of them. The first team to reach a set goal (like the ‘thousands’ place value) wins!

Classroom Accommodations & Modifications

Recognizing that every student’s learning needs are different, here are some suggestions for accommodating and modifying this activity to ensure its suitability for all learners:

For Students Needing Additional Support:

  1. Provide additional time to grasp the concept. You might want to play the game in a slower, more controlled way initially, talking through each step.
  2. Use manipulatives that are color-coded or have tactile differences to help these students better distinguish between the different place values.
  3. Pair struggling students with stronger peers who can guide them through the game process.

For Advanced Learners:

  1. Incorporate larger numbers or introduce the concept of decimals to challenge students who quickly master the initial activity.
  2. Ask these students to create and solve their problems using the base ten blocks and place value charts.

Activity in Action: Gameplay Scenarios

Let’s consider a few game scenarios to illustrate how this activity unfolds:

Scenario 1: A student assigned to ‘ones’ has nine blocks and receives another one, making ten. They then exchange these ten ‘ones’ blocks with the ‘tens’ student for a single ‘ten’ block.

Scenario 2: A ‘tens’ student has eight ‘ten’ blocks. The ‘ones’ student exchanges their ten ‘ones’ for a ‘ten’ block, providing the ‘tens’ student with their ninth ‘ten’ block.

Scenario 3: The ‘tens’ student finally accumulates ten ‘ten’ blocks. They then exchange these with the ‘hundreds’ student, demonstrating the power of ten concept.

These scenarios reinforce the place value system, enhance peer interaction, and provide an interactive way to comprehend the abstract concept of the power of ten.

Power of Ten: A Doorway to Deeper Mathematical Understanding

In my classroom, the Place Value Power of Ten activity has truly revolutionized the way students perceive and engage with numerical principles. By converting abstract concepts into tangible actions, we’re able to better equip our students with a robust understanding that’ll serve them in tackling more complex mathematical tasks. Plus, it promotes collaborative learning, negotiation skills, and strategic thinking.

Aligning with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS)

This activity aligns with several math content standards under the Common Core, particularly:

  • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.2.NBT.A.1: Understand that the three digits of a three-digit number represent amounts of hundreds, tens, and ones.
  • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.4.NBT.A.1: Recognize that in a multi-digit whole number, a digit in one place represents ten times what it represents in the place to its right.

Implementing activities like the Place Value Power of Ten not only elevates student engagement but also ensures we’re meeting the rigorous standards set by the Common Core.

Teachers, I implore you to try out this phenomenal activity and experience the transformation it brings to your math instruction.

Remember, the true power of ten is not just in understanding its place value system, but in using it to unlock the door to the vast universe of mathematics.

Happy teaching, educators!

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