Place values was something my child with math anxiety struggled with.
She was fine with ones and tens, but the more numbers added to the list, the more overwhelming it became for her. Workbooks have never been on her tool list for learning, and our usual white board method of working on things together didn’t have the same effect for place values. We turned to online games and the overwhelm of digits melted away, mostly.
She still has a bit of frustration as the numbers get bigger, especially if the day has gone less than spectacular for her in terms of anxiety and sensory overwhelm. My main take away is that the games did lighten the load for her and helped her gain some of the confidence she needed to help overcome her anxiety when it came to understanding place values.
Free Online Place Value Games
The Place Value Game at Jefferson Lab
Here’s how it works:
1. Before you start you can select how many digits the final number will be, how many discarded numbers you’ll allow, and the range of digits from 0 to 9.
2. Your goal is to create the largest number possible from the digits provided. The catch is you are only given one digit at a time, and once the digit is placed in a place value box it can’t be moved.
Sounds pretty simple, right?
The concept is easy, but the game is challenging. I played it several times and only beat it once.
When kids are first starting out with this game, you can always reduce the total number of digits and the digit range to make things a bit easier on them.
The amount of control for customizing this game as well as its simplicity is what makes this game a win for our family.
Place Value Hockey by abcya.com
Place Values Game
Place Value Hockey had split reviews in our household. One child loved all of it, the other was okay with the actual place value portion, but didn’t like the hockey game.
There are 2 parts to this game. The first has the player identify which digit is in the specific place value requested. Once the player gets five correct answers in a row, she can move on to the second part of the game. Beware though, if you get an answer wrong, your slap shot counter will drop back down to zero!
In the second part of the game the player gets to have some fun with hockey and take their best shot to get the puck past the other players into the goal. There is a bit of timing that goes along with it. This part of the game is mostly reward for getting five answers in a row correct on the place value portion, but it’s also a good practice for hand eye coordination.
There are three levels of difficulty. Level 1 will display ones, tens, and hundreds. Level 2 goes up to the millions place. Finally, level 3 is a bit more challenging because it adds in decimal points and might ask the player to identify ones, tens, hundreds, etc, or tenths, hundreths, thousandths, etc.
If you’re looking for a little variety, in addition to the place values game, you also have the option of playing the numeral game. For this one you’ll be given a number in word form and the player will need to type it out in digit form. For example, if they give three hundred twenty seven, the player would write 327.
Just like the Place value game the player will need to get 5 correct answers in a row to move on to the hockey portion of the game.
Level 1 gives numbers through the hundreds place. Level 2 goes up to the millions place. Level 3 adds in decimals. I wasn’t exceptionally thrilled with level three because instead of writing the words out for the decimal value in tenths, hundredths, or thousandths, it just listed the digits in the order they appear after the decimal. For example, the question would ask you to write the number one hundred forty two point three one seven nine, instead of three thousand one hundred seventy nine thousandths.
The last method is how I was taught to write out decimal points, however listing them as digits may also be correct. I’m unsure on that math point. Feel free to let me know in the comments if you’ve been taught a different way on how to say the number in a decimal value.
Town Creator by Free Training Tutorial
It’s a free play game where the player can design their own town on a revolving canvas just by correctly selecting which number is in a specific place value. When a correct answer is selected the air ship drops the town element it’s showing next to it.
The game can be made more challenging by increasing the number range from 3 digits to 9 digits.
As players level up they will open up more options for town elements. It starts with houses, then eventually adds in vehicles, trees, leisure items, buildings, air craft, and landmarks. If you don’t like the look of the element showing by the airship, you can cycle through the elements in a specific category by clicking on the corresponding box to the right.
My girls immediately insisted I pull this game up on their iPads, and took off giggling as they compared their towns and created silly things such as dropping cars on top of other cars and piling all elements in one spot, which was dubbed the junk pile.
I loved this particular game because my child who has math anxiety didn’t even bat an eye to this. She loved it immediately and showed no signs of overwhelm. She even took well to the idea of increasing the number range for more of a challenge.
There are several other place value games on Free Training Tutorial, make sure you try them out too!
I Got Your Number on education.com
The host gives hints in the form of (#) tens and (#) ones which will have players referencing their knowledge on place values and how to quickly locate a number on the hundreds chart. An example would be three tens and four ones. Answer, 34. Simple.
After players answer a few questions the game has a commercial break where it advertises a silly product, so kids will have fun imagining what it would be like to actually use the product.
You do need to register for a free education.com account to play, but the site has a lot to offer, so that’s not too much of a problem.
At first I was a bit put off on the challenge because it only focuses on ones and tens, but the added review of the hundreds chart made it worth while.
My biggest problem with the game is how short it is. There aren’t a lot of questions asked before the game ends, however for kids with shorter attention spans, this might be the right game for them. It allows them to finish a game and decide if they want to play again.
There are some other place value games on education.com, but they only go up to the hundreds. If that’s what you’re looking for then check them out! You might find the one that’s right for your student.
Do you have any other place value games that have been a hit with the kids? Feel free to share what works for your family in the comments below.