Place value.

Sometimes learning the same thing with cutting and pasting is better than writing it. It's the activity of moving the numbers around to place them in the correct column that helps my son remember what goes where.

Sometimes learning the same thing with cutting and pasting is better than writing it. It’s the activity of moving the numbers around to place them in the correct column that helps my son remember what goes where.

Place value is important. When you are learning to do multiple digit addition and subtraction, place value becomes essential. In multiplication and division, place value is even more important. We have finally reached the stage in math where not knowing place value can really mess you up.

Nicholas has been using the Khan Academy 4th grade math program. We work on one skill until it is “practiced” and then move onto the next skill. It generally takes us two days to get to the “practiced” level in a skill. We’ve been through carrying and borrowing, and now they have us on 3 and 4 digit math programs with carrying and borrowing. Learning place value is all part of that.

Our place value lesson started out because we had an exceptionally bad math morning. Nicholas would do the math problem correctly on paper, and then enter it backwards online – and then be shocked he was getting it wrong. I tried to teach him place value right there (he’s good with his ones and tens – anything higher had become a problem). That didn’t work. So I called a halt to the whole process.

I went onto http://www.education.com and found a few place value worksheets. We did those. Then it was lunch time. During their lunch I made our cutting and pasting place value activity. I wrote out 6 numbers with 4 digits on a piece of paper. Then I wrote out the numbers in random order on another sheet of paper. Finally I made a grid on a third sheet of paper with the labels, “ones, tens, hundreds, thousands.”

After our reading time (which always happens right after lunch) I got out the activity. Nicholas had to cut out the numbers from the page, then assemble them in the right order on the grid. He had to use the first page, with all 6 numbers that I wrote on it, as a guide to make the correct numbers.

He’s pretty methodical. So before he did anything he cut out all the numbers. Into various squares and rectangles. Because he’s good at procrastinating (he gets that from me) he sorted them into piles. Not number piles, but whether the square/rectangle was cut well enough. Then he proceeded to trim those in the unacceptable pile until they were acceptable. The numbers were then ordered from smallest (0) to largest (9). Then from largest to smallest. Finally he got to work when I said no more trampoline until we were done with our place value lesson.

It’s clear he learned the lesson because he did it on his own. Correctly. The first time. While i was helping Abby with her piano lesson. All of this was a surprise, so I figured he actually learned it.

It became clearer the next few days while we were doing math that he had learned place value. I’m so excited that was a one day lesson. Now we are going to have to tackle the decimal points and numbers larger than thousands. But he has the basics for now.

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