image of tens and ones math center

Place value with tens and ones

I’m not sure about you, but I LOVE teaching place value in first grade.  It seems like they just GET IT as soon as I teach it – no banging my head against the wall for this concept.  Maybe it’s because Eureka Math does such a great job of preparing them, maybe because it’s just an easy concept, maybe I have the most brilliant kiddos of all time (every year), maybe it’s all the different ways we teach it (check out my daily counting math blog post here) but whatever the case may be – I LOVE teaching place value!  So, I wanted to share a center activity that we have set up after I cover place value.

Here’s How it works:

After I introduce tens and ones, I give each table the tens and ones cards.  I have six tables, so I have six sets of cards (labeled A-F).

  • We put the pile of cards in the middle of the table
  • I give each student a place value chart
  • Students pick a card
  • They write the number
  • Raise their hand
  • I check it
  • They grab another card

We do this several times before we practice any other skills.  I want to make sure that I’m the one checking for understanding.  At this time, if there are a few students who are still having trouble, I will bring them to my table to work with me.

Once I feel that most have it mastered, I’ll add place value cards to the mix.  I’ll put students in groups, parnter A picks a tens and ones card, and partner B has to find the place value chart that matches.  There are also EXPLAIN cards in the mix.  IF they pick this card, they need to explain how they found the tens and ones cards.  What were you looking for?  etc.

White board with place value chart
Place Value with Tens and Ones


Even though I call this an Early Finisher – for this one, I actually have the entire class work on it while I monitor.  (You can also use Google Slides.). So each slide will show a set of tens and ones – students will use their place value chart to write their answer, and then the next slide will show the answer.  The slides move ahead on their own, so you can truly just monitor the students as they write their answers, check their answers, erase, and go again.


I absolutely LOVE using PPTS/Google Slides early finishers anytime I have a few extra minutes.  These are GREAT fillers for:

  • Five minutes before lunch – what to do?  Hummmm – early finisher ppts
  • While students are getting water
  • When we are lining up – have them say the number before they line up
  • As they come back into the classroom – let’s cool down with these




Place value with tens and ones Center Games

Once I think my students are ready – we add these to our centers.  I encourage two students to play together since there are a lot of cards, but they can do this as an independent activity.

  • Students grab a set, and start laying them out as a matching game.
  • Once they have so many matched, they can either have their partner check their work OR they can scan the QR code with a device and they can check their own work. (students LOVE to check with the QR codes)

Each card is labeled with the set in the bottom right-hand corner for easy identifying.

Other Ideas:

We also had a thirty minute block of time (we haven’t done it since COVID) where we had other students come into our classrooms for either enrichment or remediation.  These sets were great to use during this time as well.  

Indoor recess – Oh yeah… students love it!

Math Night – this is perfect since there are soooo many decks and cards!

Want to grab it now – Here’s the LINK.

Place Value task cards

I’d love to hear from you!

What other ideas do you have with this resource?  Would you love to see this type of resource with bigger numbers?  If so, let me know by leaving a comment.  I’d love to hear from you.


Shanon Juneau

We Are Better Together