In the past 11 homeschool years, I’ve taught elementary math 4 times. I feel like a pro! I have used various math programs for different children through the years, and they each have a unique way of approaching different concepts. I appreciate the different perspectives and feel like that makes me a better homeschool teacher.
Even though I’m not a math person, I work extra hard to make sure that my children have a very solid foundation in elementary math concepts. Without that knowledge, upper level math is incredibly hard and won’t easily make sense.
One concept that I drill over and over is Place Value.
We practice a lot of place value and apply it as often as possible in real-life scenarios. My kids get tired of hearing me say, “See! Place value matters!”
This post was originally published in September 2012! That was a long time ago! The cards have been re-formatted with a cleaner font and the post has been updated.
➡ Click here to browse through all of the math worksheets and posts here at Mama’s Learning Corner.
Understanding Place Value
It is usually 1st or 2nd grade when my children start to “carry over” simple equations using tens. It’s usually late 2nd into 3rd grade that my children solve 2- and 3-digit equations where borrowing – or re-grouping as some say – is required. This can be a much harder concept to understand.
Of course they continue to practice this carrying over and borrowing into older elementary grades to solidify this skill before moving on to more difficult math.
In the beginning, I teach my children the algorithm of borrowing and increasingly help them understand why they are doing that along the way while we practice.
I don’t require my kids to understand from the get-go why we are borrowing in place value. It’s like Latin recitation – I require them to know the form (process in this case), and then the why can come about at a later time. Whether that later time is the next hour, the next day, or the next week, I cannot always predict.
But it will come in time with my reminding and prompting as their teacher.
This post was originally published back in 2012, and I used the original black and white set with each of my children. These cards coupled with Math-U-See’s Place Value Blocks have been a winning combination for my children!
Yikes! I see that the MUS Blocks have really gone up in price since I purchased many years ago. I frequently see them at our local homeschool curriculum store, so that might be an option to purchase them at a more reasonable price.
➡ You can browse through all of the Math Worksheets and posts here at Mama’s Learning Corner.
How to Use Place Value Cards
These place value cards can be used from the moment you introduce place value to your children. I use these for years when we circle back to place value for any reason where more understanding is needed.
Years ago, my young son and I started out with pink highlighter writing on cut-up index cards and moved on to these “pretty” place value cards. You will find that I included a black and white set, as well as a colored set that coordinates with the Math-U-See blocks.
In the colored printable card set, ones are green, tens are blue, and hundreds are red. I made the thousands place lavender, as there isn’t a thousands block in the MUS set.
These place printable place value cards are so helpful in the early understanding of this math concept.
When your child sees you exchange a group of (10) ones for (1) group of ten, it helps solidify the words you’re saying. This visual representation helps reinforce what is so hard to imagine in one’s head, for those of us who are visual learners.
When using these place value cards to teach subtraction, I gave my son a written equation on a piece of paper. He built the equation on his desk with place value cards, and then solves it.
You can also use these cards to demonstrate expanded notation.
Printable Place Value Cards
This download contains two sets of place value cards: 1 set of black ink only and 1 set of colored numbers. Each set contains ones, tens, hundreds, and thousands.
If you’re using the colored ink set, print them on white or cream cardstock for longer durability.
If you would like to use the black ink only set, it would be helpful to your child if you printed each place value on different colored paper. For example, print the ones on green cardstock, the tens on yellow cardstock, and the hundreds on blue cardstock. The colors are so helpful, as one’s eye can easily group them.
Print as many of the place value cards as you’ll need. We personally needed two sheets of ones and one sheet of each tens, hundreds, and thousands.
Blog Posts About Math Curriculum
You might be interested in these posts on math curriculum my children and I have used through the years:
→ Best Homeschool Curriculum – This post contains my readers’ choices of the best curriculum. You can find several math options here.
→ Why We Switched from Singapore Math to Math Mammoth – This is a good overview of Singapore Math if you are considering a purchase.
→ Why Math Mammoth is a Fantastic Fit for Our Homeschool – If you’re considering Math Mammoth, this is a good overview
Ironically, we don’t use either of those math curricula any longer! We are in our 3rd year of using Rod and Staff Math and could not be more pleased. It is a very traditional, review-heavy approach, which is much more appropriate for my girls.
I wouldn’t change a thing about using Singapore and Math Mammoth with my oldest, however. He finished MM through Grade 7 and it was an excellent foundation for him to sail into Algebra I.
I have found that different children need different approaches to math. 🙂
All Access Pass members can download this entire packet in the All Access Pass area.
After you log in, choose the Math page and scroll down until you see this particular worksheet packet. Then just click and your download will start immediately.
If you don’t have an All Access Pass, you can download a set of Printable Place Value Cards here:
I see your place value cards and have read your information. Still I feel I have a brain block here as I am not entirely sure how to actually teach my little guy how to use them. I would love if you could email me a more detailed explanation or if you have a video of your child doing this it would help, I am a visual learner myself. LOL
Mimi – I’m writing a post about how we use them in different grade levels. Hope to have it up by the end of next week, so stay tuned! 🙂
I can’t seem to find where to download the place value cards. They are exactly what I am looking for! Thank you for making them and sharing. Now can you help me download them? Please!
Thank you, Kandi
Kandice, I’ve fixed the link now. Click on the image at the bottom of the post.
Darci the STEM Mom
Wow…..After reading the book “Why Before How: Singapore Math Computation Strategies” by Jana Hazekamp the Singapore method we’ve been using for a year makes so much more sense. The book gave me the language to use to teach the concepts within the workbooks. I also knew I wanted to use place value cards. I knew they would be easy to make, but I went out to look to see if someone already had them! And you did! Plus your free download gave me color options! I’ll probably use the black numbers and print them on colored cardstock, then laminate them. Thanks to for putting the blocks next to each other. I see so many people separate the blocks and its double the cutting! Well done! Thank you so much, Darci
Darci, I’m so glad you stopped by! Thank you!
And I’m thrilled you can use the place value cards. I can’t tell you the times I’ve already used them with my two oldest children.
I’ve never heard of the book you referenced. Off to check that you and THANK YOU for leaving that info!