Use laminated number cards to explore place value through people maths

  • Students will have used these at primary
  • x10 decimal point should stay in the same place
    • students are likely to want to move it
    • if it stays in the same place, it helps to show that the value of each digit is changing
  • Make the smallest number possible from the cards
  • Explore what each number’s value is
  • Use 0 to ‘hold the place’
  • Students tend to think that 568.0 is bigger than 568 – useful to address this misconception
  • Students often don’t know the difference between 0.4 and 0.04 – using the concept of money can clarify this.

3 thoughts on “Use laminated number cards to explore place value through people maths

  1. Pingback: Summer Institute highlight: An amazing day on number | Weekly Maths

  2. Place value is certainly a fraught area of maths for students. If you really want to terrify yourself as to the mammoth task you have ahead of you, give pupils numbers like


    and ask them what zeros they could remove without its value changing. Then ask them where they could add in zeros without its value changing. The incorrect justifications that result are interesting (though depressing given they’re from secondary school children) to listen to.

    Activities like people maths are great to have in your toolbox, but my problem with them is that they are just that – activities. I fear they don’t really provide new teachers with a solid framework or narrative to go into the classroom with, that they can effectively structure lessons around. I certainly still don’t feel like I have any idea how to really effectively sequence the teaching of place value.

    • Couldn’t agree more with your last paragraph redgreen. It’s a privilege to have you and others with experience of the classroom commenting on this stuff now. You’ve articulated exactly what I feel I lack – sure I’ve got some interesting activities, but what is the core learning point that I’m trying to get across with an activity like this? That’s what I’m not sure about, which then feeds through as you say into the sequencing question and/or ‘what on earth do I do if they don’t get it?’

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